Avoiding Internet Scams

Usually internet scams will appear at least first in the form of an e-mail. Sometimes it will appeal to a human tendency to be greedy. There is a very common scam that sends an e-mail that states something about a rich family attempting to leave a country where there is some rebellion or problem. Usually they state that they have missions in dollars that they want to transfer through your account. They are merely trying to get your account informtion and sometimes it is an attempt to get you to send them money to help them get ready for the transfer that will never happen.

Some internet scams come with a virus. In this type of scam they may be trying to trick you to go to the scammer's website and enter your account information for an account such as Paypal or E-Bay. Usually you will receive a very official looking e-mail stating that someone has attempted to break into your account and/or you must verify your account information in order to continue using your account. You are given links to what looks like the legitimate site for your account but the actual location is hidden. If you click the link and the authorities have not shut down the site you may get a virus from the website you have visited. Then your computer may be used to try to send more scam/virus e-mails to other people not to mention the fact that the attacker could get information from your computer once it is infected.

Defense 1

Be sure of who you are actually receiving the e-mail from. Below is outlined how to do this in Outlook and Outlook Express:

Outlook Express

  • In Outlook Express you can right click on the e-mail and select "Properties".
  • A dialog box box will appear with information about the e-mail.
  • Click the details tab and examine the line(s) that say "received from". An example appears below:
Mail Properties

One of the "received from" lines should be the domain claiming to send the e-mail. In this case the E-mail claims to be from Windows and .NET magazine and the mail server sending the e-mail is winntw2.winnetmag.com which indicates this e-mail to be legitimate.

Outlook

  • In Outlook you can right click on the e-mail and select "Options".
  • A dialog box box will appear with information about the e-mail.
  • Next to the line that says "Internet headers" you will see information about where the e-mail came from
Mail Properties

Defense 2

Never click on a link in an e-mail unless you are sure it is legitimate. Most of the time you should be able to see the actual value of a link if you hold your mouse over the link. The actual address will appear in the lower left hand corner of most e-mail client programs or internet browsers. If you are not sure about the e-mail it is best to manually type the address of the site you want to go to or bring up your site favorites menu in your browser and open the page that way.

Defense 3

Never give an untrusted party your personal information including bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security numbers, and even your e-mail address. You should also be careful who you give your real address and phone number to.

Defense 4

Never allow someone to appeal to your sense of greed. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

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