Stay safe online in 2023
It’s 2023 and we are still receiving hoards of emails from kings and queens needing to share their wealth with you. The reality is that scammers have become more intuitive and are trying a variety of new ways to scam you out of data or money, and you should take all the measures you can to keep yourself, your data and your money safe.
The first question people ask is how can you tell the difference between a scan and a legitimate email. It’s often not the easiest thing, as scammers have become very smart in the way they present their scams.
Firstly, let’s eliminate the obvious scams; if you did not buy a lottery ticket online, you obviously did not win the lottery and Microsoft, Yahoo, Gmail, Facebook are not giving away money just because you will forward an email to 5 people. No king or lawyer is going to share $15M with you because he or she found your email address randomly. It might come at a time when you are desperate for money and seem like you have nothing to lose, but it will actually cost you something, sometimes a lot more than you think. These are not all the scams out there, but you get the idea. If it seems too good to be true, it most probably is.
Now let’s look at the ones that seem more legitimate. What is common is to receive an email saying that your email account is blocked and that you need to login to reactivate it. When anyone ask you to log in to a page, especially from an email, this should start the alarm bells ringing. Firstly check the source of the email, by checking who is sending you the email, not the name that is displayed but the email address it is coming from. If the email came from a free email service (like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo) then it’s a scam, delete without reading further. However, some scammers can get clever and make it look like the email is sent from your own domain, sometimes even yourself. In this case first check with your tech team or service provider. Use some logic, if the email says that your mails are blocked, how did this one come through? No mail client can read your emails and filter which ones can go and which ones can’t.
As a result of COVID-19, many companies started using online file sharing platforms, like DocuSign to send over contracts and documents, many scams use the a very similar template to send you documents, often viruses or trojans, or even phishing, so that they can get your password. If a document or contract is going to be sent over, even from services like this, you should first receive an email from the company or organization sending you the contract, and then from the document service provider, so also cross check this. It might sound obvious, but if you are not expected a document or contract, chances are that it’s a scam.
This one has been going around for a while and has managed to trap a lot of people. You receive an email (normally from yourself) with a message saying they have a recording of you watching porn on your computer and often also a video of you pleasuring yourself. In exchange for a payment in cryptocurrency, they will delete all the information. Firstly, if you pay once, chances are they will be extorting you for a lifetime, you have no guarantee that they will delete the data and secondly, if you do make a payment in cryptocurrency, how will they know that you made the payment since all crypto payments are anonymous? If you do get an email like this, firstly check your computer for viruses, use a good anti-virus program, many of them offer free versions that are good enough to find any software installed on your computer that can track or take control of your camera. It might also be a good idea to invest in a cover for your camera and having it on, when you are not using it.
Another scam which is difficult to identify is when you get an email from a courier service or local postal services. These normally show an email address with the domain of the real company so you need to be a bit careful here. In most cased a courier service will not send you an attachment, they would send you at most a link. The best way to be safe in these instances is to ignore all attachments and links in the email and simply open the couriers website using their domain, and entering the tracking number, if it is real you will see results and instruction on what is needed directly from there site.
These are just a few of the common scams that fill your email and we will continue to add new articles and updates on new scams that we discover.
As a rule of thumb, to keep safe, make sure your computer software is up to date, have a good antivirus program installed on your computer, don’t trust all emails, never give out your password or bank account information, or any personal data for that matter.