We all get emails from UPS, Walmart, Costco and other big retailers, airlines or travel resorts, but are they real?
Cybercriminals are always looking for ways to get your information, steal money or steal your identity. They will create emails that look like they are from your bank, the IRS, a store you shop at, coworkers, relatives, or friends.
These emails will contain links they want you to click so you can enter your information. Unfortunately, once you do that, the damage is done.
There are a few tricks you can do to stop them in their tracks and protect yourself. The trick is to slow down, read the email, and look for these signs:
- Is the subject line font different than the rest of the email or are there numbers instead of letters like a zero for an "o"? This is usually a sign of a fake email.
- Compare the name in the "From" field in the email to the actual email address from which it came. Fake emails often show one name in the "From" field while the actual email address it came from is something, or more likely someone, completely different.
- Take your mouse and hover over any link it asks you to click on and see what web address pops up. If it is from a legitimate company, it will show you the link and should take you to that company’s website. When in doubt, never access a company’s website through a link in an email. Instead, directly type the company's URL into the address bar or conduct an internet search using your preferred secure web browser.
- Spelling and grammar mistakes are a big warning sign. Bad spelling, poor grammar, a generic greeting of Sir or Madam, or no greeting at all are signs of a fake email.
Furthermore, at certain times of the year, you will get more specific emails because of what is happening around you.
For example, during tax season, you might get an email from the IRS about issues with your taxes. However, the IRS will mail you a paper notice if there is a problem. They will never send you an email.
Similarly, banks will never email you and request your account information.
Around the holidays, you may get many emails from “retailers” about free gift cards. Most retailers do not give away gift cards, so it is safe to delete those emails as well.
If you do not take a few minutes to double-check an email to make sure it is legitimate before you click on a malicious link or provide personal information, it could lead you down a miserable path where you must deal with the mess of identity fraud, money removed from your accounts, or worse.
If you come across these types of emails, the best thing to do is to delete them and forget about them.