Here at The Money Shed, we always try our best to protect you from online scams. However, sometimes you may get a dreaded phone call from a parent, asking if the latest email they have received from Nigeria about their £1 million inheritance is real. It doesn’t matter how careful you are, these scammers always find a way to get into your inbox in the hope that you give to them more personal details and ultimately, part with your cash.
But how do they get your details? You may think that sending your friend an email is as simple as: write email – send email – friend receives and reads email. In reality that emails goes through a longer process than this. The email is sent to a server, the server reads where the email is supposed to go and like a telephone operator of yester years, plugs the email into the destination port and fires it away to your friend. The email is contained in server side storage of the email company and as such is susceptible to attack hackers and scammers. These nefarious types can pull out the details from the email such as the source address, the destination address and the information contained in the email itself; they can even change the contents of the email so what your friend receives isn’t what you originally sent.
Most reputable email companies, whether it is Outlook, Gmail etc, will have protections against these types of attacks built into their server software. However, as you will remember from the media storms surrounding hacks of large international companies, even modern security can never be guaranteed, and so taking steps to protect yourself and your information on the internet in general is a wise step to take.
DO NOT click on links or download attachments that come in your emails if you’re not 100% certain of the source – even if a “friend” has sent you it, double check it is genuine.
Watch for poor spelling and grammar in an email, quite often these hackers don’t have English as their native language so slip up with their spelling, grammar and punctuation.
Use a spam filter on your emails, these will often catch nasty emails and throw them in to your junk folder so you know to be careful if you open them.
If you’re not 100% sure about an attachment then have your PC run a virus check and it should pick up any malicious nasties. If you still have doubts after the virus scan, remember that new viruses can take time to appear in your virus scanners known threats list so delete it anyway and check with the sender directly. An email can always be resent.
If an offer in an email looks too good to be true then it probably is, do a Google search for the company or offer and if you include the word ‘scam’ you will often find information from other people about the offer.
Contact your bank IMMEDIATELY if you think you may have given out your bank details without realising, they will take all the necessary measures to make sure your account is protected.
As technology advances so does the opportunities for these scammers, they are constantly coming up with ways to defraud the hardworking pubic so it is vital for you to keep your knowledge up to date and continue to protect yourself.