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Q. I have heard on many occasions of people being scammed through email and the Internet. I can never imagine being scammed.
I'm fairly Internet savvy and my computer and email account have settings to weed out potentially harmful messages. How do people fall for these scams? Why don’t they protect themselves better? Y.D., Quakertown
A. So you’re completely safe then, right? Think again. Scammers are getting smarter, too. Here are 10 things you should be alert for when going through your email inbox. Keeping your guard up now will prevent you from worrying later.
- Emails that contain a link as the only content in the body, bit.ly or shortened links that don’t display the actual Web address and hyperlinked text that give you no indication of what you would be clicking. When in doubt, don’t click.
- An inordinate number of other recipients. If you get an email with hundreds of other addresses in the recipient field, yet the message seems directed to only one person, your scam sense should be on high alert.
- Questionable subject line. If you receive an email from an address you do not recognize and it contains “no subject,” be careful. If you have no idea what you may be opening, it’s best to leave it alone.
- Intense enthusiasm. All capital letters is not only annoying, it can also indicate spam when it comes to emails. (e.g. I JUST LOST 45 POUNDS WITH THE XX2 PROGRAM!) Overly enthusiastic emails are a sure sign that the information is not what it seems.
- Grammar and spelling. You don’t have to be an English major to notice odd mistakes in scam emails. Look out for major typos and scammers that purposely misspell things to avoid your spam filter.
- Strange requests. If someone is emailing you for medical assistance, it’s just not legit.
- Urgency. Typically, people don’t use email to notify others in the case of an emergency, when they need "money wired now." If you get an email claiming the situation is a matter of life or death, rest assured that the sender would not be targeting you, a stranger, in the first place.
- Sensitive information. More often than you may expect, people send personal, secure information to scammers. Scammers operate by asking for personal information (credit card numbers, passwords, etc.) and can disguise emails to look official. Companies, schools, banks and other institutions will not ask you to submit sensitive information in an email.
- Name-sender disagreement. Scam email addresses often have different names to dupe the recipient. Check the address before assuming that something is legitimate. For instance, an email from Match.com would not have the address of contact @yourbestfriend.com.
- Guarantees. Please remember that nothing on the Internet is guaranteed. Follow your instincts and pay attention to the sender address, the subject line and promises that are too good to be true.
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