There has been a global increase in the number of individuals who fall victim to email based fraud. While email based fraud can take many forms, it often occurs when an unauthorized individual gains access to another individual’s email account, steals personal information, and then fabricates communications for the unauthorized individual’s financial gain.
Fraud prevention is everyone’s responsibility. The best defense is to be aware, use good judgment, and educate yourself regarding the general warning signs. In that regard, be wary of:
- Emails with odd wording or spacing. Many fraudulent requests are poorly written with misspellings and incorrect grammar. Other, more sophisticated fraudulent requests may closely mimic legitimate email requests, but upon close examination, contain incorrect punctuation or use odd spacing or capitalization.
- Emails sent from a suspicious address, email addresses with a misleading domain name, or emails containing mismatched URLs. In many cases, emails are spoofed by making subtle changes so it is difficult to distinguish a fake address from a legitimate one.
- Emails marked urgent or that make unrealistic threats. Fraudulent requests often insist that a funds transfer must happen quickly due to an emergency.
- Emails sent from a government agency. It is unlikely that a government agency would initiate contact with you through email. Contact the agency directly to verify whether the message is legitimate.
The following measures can help protect you and your family from becoming victims of email based scams:
- Always confirm that any request to initiate a transaction is from a legitimate source. If the request cannot be confirmed at the source, it probably is not legitimate.
- Double and triple check email addresses.
- Slow down so as to avoid pressure to take action quickly before you have time to think it through.
- Never open attachments, click on links, or respond to emails from suspicious or unknown sources.
- Protect your account numbers, personal identification numbers, and passwords. Never save this information on your computer.
- Use strong passwords and do not use the same passwords all of the time. Passwords should be at least eight characters and contain upper/lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. Do not authorize websites to remember your user name or password.
- Keep your computer and mobile devices up to date.
- Ask yourself if you are sharing too much information on social media websites. Check your social media privacy settings.
If you have questions or concerns about fraud prevention, please contact Steven Plummer at 419.865.1098.