Emails arrive daily with promises of refunds, shipped packages, cash prize winnings, and more… but all come with questions about your personal and financial history. They say they are the IRS, UPS, AOL or even a credit union or bank. Are they really? Who can you trust?
1. What are some examples of emails that have appeared recently that we should ignore?
A) IRS – This email refers to a tax refund of $189.00. However it is not from the IRS. It is from a phony company that is “phishing” for personal and financial information. Phishing is a high-tech scam that uses spam to deceive consumers into disclosing their personal information. Phishing is considered a two-time scam. First it steals a company's identity and then uses it to victimize consumers by stealing their credit identities. Other examples of this scam are below.
B) UPS – A person receives a message saying their postal package was not delivered because the address is not complete. Be aware; the link takes you to a "look-alike" site and into the hands of identity thieves.
C) Credit Unions, banks, etc. - Similar scams appear using these companies. When you click on the link, you will be asked for sensitive information, such as account numbers and passwords.
2. What advice does the BBB give so we can protect ourselves from these fraudulent emails?
A) Consider the sender. For example, look at the return email address. If it does not look legit, chances are it is from a scam artist.
B) Are you a customer of the organization? It is easy to become concerned when you receive an official looking email, however, stay calm and think it through. If you are not a customer of the organization, it is probably a scam.
C) Why would they need the information? Don’t they have it already? Instead of responding to the email, contact the company referenced using a telephone number or web site address you know to be genuine (because it appears on a billing statement, for instance).
D) Study the words used and check the spelling. Grammatical errors can often be a sign of a scam.
E) Just don’t open the email, the link, or the attachment.
F) Check out the company with the BBB first!
3. What if you’re a victim of a “phishing” email scam?
Report the incident immediately to the legitimate organization involved.
For further details, call 409-835-5348 or 800-685-7650 or www.bbb.org.