Email has revolutionised the way we communicate, but unfortunately, it has also opened a door for scammers and hackers to dupe people into giving up everything from access to their personal computer to their bank account logins. To help Chirpy Members stay safe online, here are a few important tips for avoiding scams and viruses in your inbox.
If you get an email from an unrecognised sender
If you don’t know the person or company an email has come from, the safest course of action is to delete it. If you do open it, remember:
- Don’t believe any tall stories, like claims that you’ve won the lottery, are the long-lost heir to a fortune, or are in legal trouble.
- Don’t click on any links, as these could take you to a website that installs malware, spyware or ransomware on your computer.
- Don’t open any attachments, as these can contain viruses.
If you get an email from a well-known company
Some email scammers pose as familiar companies like banks or telephone providers to trick you into giving them your login details. If you ever get an email that looks legitimate (it might even have company banding on it) that is asking you to click a link and enter your username and password, don’t do it. Genuine companies will never ask for your password via an email. If you want to verify the content of a business email, search the company in Google and contact them via the email address or phone number on their public website (not the details they provided in the email) to confirm that they were the sender.
If you get an email from someone you know
It still pays to use caution when you get an unexpected email from someone you know, as their computer could have been infected with a virus that emails copies of itself to everyone in their address book. If their email is asking you to open an attachment or click on a link, reply to them to find out if it’s a genuine message before you click on anything.
Telltale signs to look out for
Other warning signs that you are dealing with a scam email include:
- Poor spelling, grammar and wording. Scam emails are often poorly-written.
- The “from” address does not match the company the email claims to be from. It could be a completely random address or a mis-spelling of the real company name.
- The branding looks wrong or unprofessionally-applied (distorted or pixellated logos, etc.).
- The message is trying to rush you into taking some kind of action.
If you need more information or want to report an email scam, contact netsafe.org.nz for assistance.