For Seniors: Spot Phishing and Other E-mail Fraud
To keep yourself safe online, learn to spot phishing schemes and other e-mail fraud. Unsolicited e-mail may be phishing for private information, monetary contributions to phony causes, or a way to introduce a computer virus to your system. Before you click a link that comes in an e-mail, even an e-mail from someone you know, there are several things you should consider.
Is the information legitimate? E-mails that make claims about products, people, investments, and so on, no matter how reasonable, should always be treated as a scam until proven otherwise. Sites such as TruthOrFiction.com, Snopes.com, or Urban Legends can help you discover if an e-mail is a scam.
Does a message ask you to click links in the e-mail? If you're unsure whether a message is genuinely from a company or bank that you use, call them, using the number from a past statement or the phone book. Don’t call a phone number in the e-mail; it could be fake.
To visit a company's or bank’s website, type the address in yourself if you know it. If not, search for the company using your browser and use that link to visit its site. Don’t click the link in an e-mail, or you may land on a site that looks right — but is just a good fake.
Does the e-mail have a photo or video to download? If so, exercise caution. If you know the person who sent the photo or video, it's probably fine to download, but if the photo or video has been forwarded several times and you don't know the person who sent it originally, be careful. It may deliver a virus or other type of malware to your laptop.
If you decide to forward (or send) e-mail to a group, always put their e-mail addresses on the Bcc: (or Blind Carbon Copy) line. This keeps everyone's e-mail safe from fraud and scams, since e-mail addresses you put on the Bcc line is kept hidden from the other people who receive the e-mail.