Trying to avoid email scams isn’t as simple as you may think. Most people know to delete messages promising lottery winnings or a free smartphone, but what about emails that look like they’re from legitimate businesses? Or links from family and friends? As people gain awareness of the risks of cybercrime, criminals are finding more subtle ways to appeal to consumers and lure them into their online scams.
According to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3), online crime has become pervasive throughout the U.S. in recent years. In 2015, the center received roughly 288,000 reports of Internet fraud totaling more than $1 billion in losses. Despite fraudsters’ increasing sophistication, simple awareness of the scams they employ may help you avoid falling victim to their tricks.
In addition, many fraudsters use old-fashioned hacking to force their way into your email. Once inside your account, they can search for financial information and sensitive data — and forward their scams to the contacts in your address book.
With all of the online threats out there, it’s important to help protect your personal and financial assets on the Internet. Though con artists are generally experts at creating believable hacks that are tough to detect, here are some steps you can take to help keep your information secure:
Being proactive against these scams may help you avoid identity theft and bring you one step closer to helping keep your personal information secure. To report spam, you can forward suspicious emails to the FTC at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally published June 23, 2011.