Identity theft is a fraudulent activity using an individual's personal information in order to commit a crime, or use it in certain activities for personal gain. Email scamming is one way fraudsters gain an individual's personal information, and is also referred to as 'phishing'. Email scams take many forms, such as solicitations, product promotions, requests for help, romance scams, among other forms of con games. Many people fall for these traps, especially because the idea of gaining something for less, or for nothing at all is very much enticing, or because the email scams are coming from a very much convincing source, like your 'bank'. These scam emails can lure you into providing your personal information, such as your birthday, your address, your Social Insurance Number, your credit card number, and other personal information. Consider these tips in order for you to avoid identity theft by identifying email scams:
- Be wary of emails you receive. A tell-tale sign that an email is fraud is if there is a hint of urgency, like the subject of the email is asking you to confirm your account information within a certain period of time, or else your account will be deactivated. Because you want to make sure that nothing like that happens, you don't think twice and you enter your personal information immediately without pausing for a few moments to check if the email is legitimate.
- Check for spelling and grammatical errors on the email. To cite an example, Bank of America will be changed to Bank of Amerika, to maintain a bit of similarity that you might not spot immediately. Email scams sometimes come from foreign countries, so if you check the spelling and grammar, you will see that there are many errors, even if the email address and the logo is exactly the same as your bank's.
- Check the links that you are provided with and never click it. Typically you will be asked to 'click on this link to verify your account information'. The link looks legitimate, but try placing the mouse pointer to hover on the link and you will see the original URL. Be suspicious if all you see is a set of numbers. Do not go to this link, you may accidentally download malware or virus that will automatically steal the information you have on your computer.
- Do not provide any of your personal information online. Stating your personal information online, like in social networking sites like Facebook or MySpace is a big NO, especially if your profile is public. You are baiting yourself to online scammers, who will get the information you've provided online and use it as foundation in order to con you.
Being vigilant with all your online transactions is something you should never take for granted. Email scams are rampant nowadays, and taking extra care while online will prevent you from being a victim of identity theft.