Spam,Scams & Phishing


First Things First:

These are just simple suggestions on the start to protecting your self from spam, scams & phishing. Please contact your email provider, or the government agencies listed below for more in depth information. Education is the key to your success – so learn from these suggestions and any & all suggestions from your ISP / hosting provider.

(1) Spam is unwanted email that is typically harmless with the exception of the content – AND – it’s not something you signed up for, want, or are offended by.

There are quite a few things you can do with the tools that your email provider supplies, including filters, spam boxes, spam reporting buttons etc…if your provider does not provide these kinds of options – do your best to find one that you like that does!

A few simple precautions:

  • If you recognize the title of the email as spam – DO NOT OPEN IT. They typically contain graphics, or other even invisible objects which tells the spammer that he has an active email address.
  • Do not even PREVIEW the email. Some preview features load the graphics and then the spammer knows it’s a valid email address.
  • Filter emails from your friends & family or even your work into specific folders – and everything else should go to a folder that does not allow pictures to be downloaded, or previewed.
  • If you receive an email from someone you know – but the title just doesn’t sound like that person – transfer it to your protected folder to review.
  • If you receive an email from YOU – yes, there are very easy ways to do that – again – move it immediately to your protected folder for a safe review.
  • If at all possible, use either a server based, or locally based spam filter and firewall!  Although most spam is harmless – there are many spammers that attach malware, and/or viruses which you will regret opening for a long time to come.
  • Speaking of attachments – NEVER, EVER, EVER open an attachment from someone you don’t know, or have questions about, etc…a strange attachment from an even stranger person is simply asking for trouble.

(2) Phishing is much more dangerous!  It is an email that tries to impersonate a bank, other financial institution, or even a relative in order to obtain sensitive information which they can then use to access your savings, checking or other accounts. They can also contain attachments which will release malware or viruses and are not worth the trouble for an amateur sleuth to look into.

The best way to protect yourself from these hoodlums is to make sure you know how your bank address’s your email’s, they unlike the phishing will typically use your name in only one fashion, and have some other kind of security codes in the email.  I can’t say all – but the vast majority of these security minded companies will never ever ask for your password, social security number, account numbers etc, etc, etc…WHY? Well – the already have it – why would they ask for it???  So don’t click on any links to “visit your account” – go to your browser and input the URL that you ALWAYS use and that you know is correct! It is much better to take a few minutes to visit your bank in a safe way – then to take the chance of becoming a victim of Phishing.

If you have ANY questions about the legitimacy of the email – call your bank, again, at a number that you know is correct and ask!

BTW:  Personally -  I have not bookmarked any of my financial institutions or had the browser remember my password. I have to hand type the URL, log in, and password every time.  I also do allow any of the online retailers to remember my credit card information etc…I much rather take the time to type it in every time than to chance getting my credit card information hi-jacked.

(3) Scams:

Every day – hundreds if not thousands of people receive emails informing them of their winning the “XYZ” lottery, or that their long lost Uncle just passed away and left them a bundle, or, that some high ranking official is trying to save millions of dollars from being stolen by XYZ organization and they are offering you 1/2 if you just help them out! Folks – if someone came to your door and said to you what those emails are saying – you wouldn’t believe them and you shut the door in their face, call the cops – and if your from Texas you’d shoot them.  But for since these offers are in writing – people fall for these scams day in and day out and why? I really don’t know – but these thieves know that once you’ve fallen for their pitch, they will milk you, your credit cards, check book and savings accounts for all they can get! Those who fall for the scam are usually too embarrassed to admit they were taken – and so the thieves get away with it, and another family suffers financial ruin!

The old adage is so true – if it sounds too good to be true – IT IS!!!!!

No legitimate lottery is going to ask you to send them money to file paper work, or what ever!

No foreign or domestic bank is going to make a multimillion dollar mistake in your favor – and ask you for funds to cover shipping and handling.

No the World Bank doesn’t have money in a fund waiting for you to claim it – your long lost uncle didn’t die and leave you a fortune, and if the daughter of that banking executive in XYZ country can’t get those millions out of her country without your help – she’s a fool looking to find another fool – after all – what do YOU know about moving around that kind of money!!!

How can you protect yourself? Easy, Don’t respond to the email, even to find out more information. Don’t call any number provided, or write to a address.  Simply forward that email to the appropriate authorities (listed below), they have specific sites and very good explanations on just how to report it, and what happens afterwards. Just remember you most likely won’t receive a reply – becuase if you have received that email – there are also thousands and thousands of others who have received the very same email – and a good many of them will report it before being harmed.

If you have been taken – don’t be embarrassed, these folks are professionals and know just how to work you to get you to do what they want. The two government sites I have listed below also instruct you how to report a scam that you have been harmed by – so please – report it, and report it to your local law enforcement too!

Also – if you start to receive threats from these thieves, immediately report them to your local law enforcement agency!

Need to report unwanted emails? Here is a quick  guide for instructions from the most popular email hosts…

Really teed off at them?  Then report them also to the following government agencies:

  • FTC Federal Trade Commission Spam Site:
  • U.S. DOJ Department of Justice Spam Site :

In any and all cases, where the email contains threats to you – PLEASE call your local law enforcement agencies ASAP.