One of the most popular scams is called "phishing" or "pharming" and it works like this:
An email is designed to look like it's coming from a well-known and respected Web site, such as Paypal. The email states that there's a problem with your account and tells you to click on a link within the email to update your customer information. When you click on the link, you're taken to a fake Web page, again designed to look like the official site, where any information you enter goes directly to the criminals who set it all up. Here are some tips on what to look for:
Where does the link take you? Fake emails usually hide the actual Web address within a linked phrase like "Click here" or "Log in". To be safe, always type the Web site address into your browser and log in from there.
Does the email ask you for information? Fake emails will ask you to reply with your personal information or to fill it into spaces provided within the email. Beware of any email that asks you to provide:
- Credit or debit card numbers;
- Driver's License numbers;
- Bank account numbers;
- Social Security numbers;
- Your full name;
- Email addresses;
Is the Web page secure? Any time you're asked to give personal information online, the Web address should begin with "https://". The "s" stands for "secure" and is your key to knowing your information is protected.
Is the email addressed to you personally? Many phishers send fake emails that use generic greetings, such as "Dear Customer" or "Dear Sir/Madam." Our emails are personalised with the name you gave us when you registered.
Does the email read well? Fake emails are often littered with misspellings, poor grammar, etc. These mistakes actually help them avoid spam filters, but they should be a dead give-away that they are not from us. All our emails are written with care and proofread by professionals.
Is the page a 'pop-up'? Fake emails and Web sites will use pop-up windows to collect information. Pop up windows appear without any action on your part and have no address bar or navigation buttons. We will never ask you to provide information via a 'pop-up' (though we may occasionally use a pop-up to provide you with information).
Is there an attachment? Many fake emails will include an attachment that, if launched, could install spyware, launch a virus or more. We will never send you an attachment or software update via email, except for a PDF file containing invoices.