With growing e-mail use has come a growing number of e-mail scams. Some scam e-mails are obviously untrustworthy while others appear perfectly legitimate at first sight. Accidentally revealing your bank information or social security number absolutely devastates your finances and credit rating - it can take years to completely recover from that sort of identity theft. However, it is possible to learn the markers of an e-mail scam and protect yourself.
- The first sign that a scam is in the works is when an e-mail addressed to you has multiple recipients. If an e-mail requesting your personal information is addressed to multiple people or to an e-mail group, you can be assured that it is a scam.
- Another style of e-mail scam is the bank scam - this e-mail will appear to be from your bank and will request that you verify your information online. If you receive this type of e-mail from a bank with which you do not have an account, it is clearly a scam. However, even if you receive this type of e-mail from your own bank and it appears legitimate, call your bank and speak to a representative. Most banks will never request account or other personal information via e-mail.
- A third type of e-mail scam involves an e-mail that claims that a distant relative has passed away and left vast sums of money to you. This scam attempts to obtain your bank account information. Be assured - no legitimate attorney would contact you via e-mail about such a matter.
- A fourth type of online scam, and possibly the most famous, is the Nigerian Bank Scam. These e-mails claim to be from rich businessmen trying to transfer their fortunes out of war-torn countries but need your money to "help" them with the transfer. While these e-mails promise millions of dollars in return for your help, do not be tempted. As a general rule, never send money to someone unknown.
- A fifth sign of an obvious scam is an e-mail written with very poor spelling and grammar. These e-mails are often nearly impossible to read because of the terrible grammar, and there are usually links and attachments in the message. However, never click on a link or open an attachment in an e-mail from a sender that you don't recognize! This could result in a virus or spyware and do significant damage to your computer.