Every day Scammers, Hackers, and Phishers are trying new ways to get to your information and to your money. Now more than ever is a time to be aware of these malicious attempts and how to defend against them. Below is a comprehensive list of common tricks used by these people and how to make sure they will not affect you.

Incorrect URL or Sender Names

One of the most common tricks that Scammers will use is slightly changing a URL or sender name. At first glance, this makes it appear as the legitimate sender or link. By replacing certain characters with other letters and numbers that look closely like them, the scammer is hoping you don’t look too closely and click the link ignorantly.

An example of this would be using certain cases of “I” “L” and “1” interchangeably as they can look remarkably similar. Another example could use the letters “rn” to simulate a “m” and so on and so forth. The easiest way to defend against this is to just look at names and links for an extra second before you move on to open anything. If unsure, you can also always paste the link or email address into a search engines home page to see whether people have reported said items on various websites.

Addressing You as a “Valued Customer” Instead of Actual Name

If you are registered to a service, you have probably provided the company with your correct contact information which includes your name. When these legitimate companies reach out to you, they usually address you personally before moving onto the rest of the message. On the other hand, Scammers will not usually be in hold of this information and address you by a general term such as “Cardholder” or “Valued Customer”. If addressed as such, it is most likely a scammer trying to contact you. Therefore, looking to see whether you were directly addressed or not is an easy way to tell a legit company from a phony company.

Typos

One of the most blatant ways to tell if a scammer is contacting you is having typos. This could be anywhere in the email, which spans from the email address, content within email, links, etc. Legitimate companies will have professional employees making sure anything they send you is perfect and typo free before it is sent. In contrast, an unprofessional scammer will not have put as much effort into this process. If the email is something you may be interested in, read through the whole thing, seeing if any typos catch your eye.

Asking for Sensitive Information via Email

No company or bank will ever ask you to send any vital information directly through an email. Do not provide any passwords, pins, or your social security number through an email. Though a simple scam, it can wreck massive havoc in all areas of your life. In majority, no company will ask for this information. If you are unsure, you can call or email the legitimate company asking if they have requested any information. If they haven’t, it is 100% a scam.

Poor Quality Images or Content

If an email is sent to you with logos that are blurry or poor resolution, it’s a sign that the email is probably not legitimate. If a logo is not good quality, a scammer most likely just ripped it from the company’s website and altered it to fit the email format. As a result, the recipient will see a poor-quality image. Similarly, you are likely to be receiving a scam if the content within the email is poorly drafted and written or includes a weird format. Once again, legitimate companies have professionals working for them that will make sure everything is perfect before sending out an email. Scammers will usually not be able to recreate the quality of the original companies work.

False, Unmatching Links

Sometimes a scammer will send you one link claiming it will take you to a certain place, but it will take you elsewhere. This is just another attempt to fool you by hoping you wont notice that it’s not the right link. An easy way to overcome this is to hover your curser over the link in question.  When you do this, a small popup box will appear in the very bottom left of your browser displaying the true destination of said link. If the destination differs from what the link is supposed to be, do not open the link.

Blatant Scams

Some scams are easier to rule out than others. If you get any messages like these listed, just delete them as they are obvious and common scams:

  • If anyone wants to send you money
  • Retailer selling high-end item for dirt cheap
  • Website requires you to download something to view image or a video
  • Make money fast job offers
  • Asking you for remote access on pc to fix computer
  • Death or arrest threats
  • Asks you to pay for something via. gift cards
  • Company asking you to pay money in order to join company to make money – pyramid scheme
  • Someone declares love for you and asks you to check out their “profile” (sorry, it’s a scam)

Defense

You know now what a scam may look like which is the first step. To be even more safe, here are some ways that you can take the extra step and defend against the attackers.

Firewall/Anti-Malware

One of the most useful tools in the defense against these attacks is having an efficient firewall and Anti-Malware. A firewall will prevent a malicious website from opening and accessing your computer even if you click on the link accidentally. This is useful because although it would be great if we could remain vigilant 100% of the time, we can always slip up.  Anti-Malware software is the final line of defense if your computer somehow does become infected by something a Scammer or Hacker sends. Usually, it will catch if a file you are downloading is malicious while downloading and stop the process. If a malicious file does end up downloaded on your PC, a routine Anti-Malware scan will catch, quarantine, and with your approval, eliminate the file.

Using a Search Engine or Website Reputation Checker

Odds are that you are not the only person that a Scammer has targeted. Fortunately for you, this means that someone somewhere has probably reported a website, link, or email address somewhere on the internet. You could simply copy and paste either of these things into your search engine and quickly look at whether someone has reported these items somewhere. There are also dedicated websites where you can paste a link in and it will tell you the reputation of a website (How many reports, when it was created, Server location etc.). By using these tools, you should be able to tell apart the real websites and links from the fake ones.

Different Passwords & Changing Passwords

Using different passwords and changing them when hacked is the simplest, yet most efficient defense. Make sure you are using different passwords for different logins everywhere, rather than having one password for all logins. If you use the same password for everything and a hacker or scammer figures it out, that means everything you have ever done online is compromised. This includes logins for banks, social media, email, etc. Taking control back at this stage will be exasperating. If you get an email saying someone was trying to log in to a certain account somewhere, just change the password for that account. Make sure you are secure.

Call or Email Legitimate Company

If you are ever unsure whether a company that has reached out to you is real or fake, you should locate their contact information on the company’s official website. Once you have the company’s real information call or email the legitimate company and ask them if they had reached out and sent that email. If the company responds no, that should clear up 100% that someone attempted to scam you.

Final words

By now you should have a strong grasp on the techniques Scammer, Hackers, and Phishers use in order to fool you as well as some techniques of your own to defend against them. Though you have gained this knowledge, every day these people are working on more and more ways to infect themselves into your life. In order to defeat them, you must use common sense and vigilance to avoid falling into these traps in the future.

Stay safe.

Please contact Comportz today to learn about cost effective ways to provide an extra level of security to your company’s email.

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