How to Guard Against the Threat of Email Fraud

Scam email communications, now regularly known as phishing, have been around since the turn of the millennium, when the internet became commonplace in family homes around the world. Although consumers are wise to the dangers of email fraud, many still fall foul of it. That’s because the threats devised by cybercriminals are ever-evolving, making it […]

Scam email communications, now regularly known as phishing, have been around since the turn of the millennium, when the internet became commonplace in family homes around the world. Although consumers are wise to the dangers of email fraud, many still fall foul of it. That’s because the threats devised by cybercriminals are ever-evolving, making it difficult for unsuspected consumers to spot the bait.

Unfortunately, it’s almost impossible to eradicate all aspects of phishing from the internet. New and confusing fraudulent scams appear in our email inboxes every day. Some of the most common phishing emails relate to finance. Many emails tout offshore investments with huge returns and minimal risk. The US-based Fifth Third Bank brand has often been ripped-off to legitimize email correspondence.

Emails purporting to be the FBI or HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in the UK ‘claim’ that individuals have been a victim of fraud and must send copies of their passport to ‘prove’ their identification. Meanwhile, every day, phishers attempt to dupe people by suggesting they’ve won a lottery via email, asking individuals to pay a set fee in order to ‘claim’ their win. Lottoland’s advice for those wondering if they’ve actually ‘won’ an online lottery is that legitimate sites would never ask you to pay a fee to claim your prize.

So, what are the best ways for consumers to be vigilant against the threat of email fraud?

  1. Check internal links within emails rigorously
    Before you click on any internal links within an email, always hover over it to discover the target URL which will appear at the bottom of your browser. Look closely for any sneaky misspellings or irregularities that wouldn’t ordinarily exist in an authoritative website address.
  2. Look for https website prefixes
    Never submit sensitive personal information to a website with an unsecured connection. It’s easy to determine whether a website is secured as the ‘https://’ prefix suggests the web page is secured. Always be wary of submitting personal data via web pages with an ‘http://’ prefix.
  3. Never open unanticipated files
    If you are sent files from random email addresses or from people you may have been playing video games against online, never open them. These may contain spyware or malicious ransomware which could infect your computer long-term. Even supposedly official websites such as FIFA can be manipulated. In 2014, sites selling supposed downloadable match tickets were actually distributing the malicious Banker Trojan to devices around the globe.
  4. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for personal chores
    Don’t log in to your online bank accounts via public Wi-Fi networks as cyber-criminals can manipulate these open networks by redirecting users to fake or spoof web pages to steal your sensitive login information for themselves.
  5. Report a phishing campaign immediately
    Finally, if you do come on the receiving end of an email scam, make sure you report it to the legitimate department of the organisation the phishing email claims to represent. It’s very important to make companies aware of such scams to accelerate their pursuit of online criminals.

It always pays to be suspicious online; even if you find that you were wrong to be so dubious about something, you’re doing your bit to protect your sensitive information online. If something sounds too good to be true online, it invariably is!

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