It’s not true… THINK!
- You have not won the lottery in Spain, the Netherlands, Canada or anywhere else. You didn’t buy a ticket, did you?
- A poor widow or bank manager does not need your help to move money from a dead person’s account to another place.
- The IRS is not electronically auditing you.
- The jury duty clerk never calls for your Social Security number.
- Banks and credit card companies do not email you to verify your information.
We could all use more money, right? Whether it’s to add to your current income or to be able to give up your 9-to-5 job altogether, it’s fun to imagine the possibilities. And it’s this exact perception about finances and income that scammers are banking on - Updated Scams & Alerts
Email scams are practically as old as email itself. Once a scammer figured out that people will read and respond to an email promising untold wealth, it opened the floodgates for a daily barrage of emails promising everything from inheritances to shared wealth opportunities to contest awards. But if there’s no money involved, why do scammers bother emailing people?
Oh, there’s money involved all right...yours.
Email scams come in a wide variety of formats and mechanisms, but they essentially all work in one of a handful of ways. The goals include: gaining access to your personally identifiable information by having you fill out the “necessary” forms; gaining access to your money by having you send in a “shipping and handling” fee or to pay the required taxes before receiving your prize; or having you click on a link to see what you’ve won, only to have the link contain malicious software that infects your computer and steals your information.
Here are some sure signs that the email is a scam:
- Money for Nothing – NO ONE is going to contact you out of the blue and give you loads of money. It’s nice to dream about, but it’s simply not the reality. They’re also not going to contact you online from a free email address.
- Dear Sir or Madam – Think about it…if someone was genuinely going to give you millions of dollars, wouldn’t they know your name?
- Youve Alredy One! – Typos and poor grammar are dead giveaways that something isn’t right about this email. If the sender’s job is to inform people all day long that they’re now millionaires, wouldn’t they spell it right?
- Hurry, This Offer Is Only Good for the Next Ten Seconds – Sorry, but if you’re the verified winner of a large sum of money or even better the recipient of an inheritance, there’s no ten second deadline. If your long lost great-great-aunt stipulated in her will that you had ten seconds to respond, something funny’s going on.
- Just Send Us the Processing Fee – If you ever win anything that requires YOU to pay money, it’s a scam, whether in an email or in real life. Winners don’t pay before receiving their prizes; even multi-million dollar lottery winners pay a portion of the winnings to the IRS after claiming their prizes.
- Funny, I Don’t Even Remember Signing Up for this Contest – That’s because you didn’t. Scammers got your name from any number of online sources. They send out these emails to thousands of people a day, hoping to get a bite. Don’t take their bait.
It is of prime importance to know the scams that thieves use to trick you into giving information. They then use the information to steal your identity. Compare this to a defensive driving course. It is not enough to know how to use a phone or the Internet. You must know how to use this technology safely, including increased awareness of situations that could lead to identity theft.
ITRC Fact Sheet 123 – Scam Help
ITRC Solution 25 – How Can I Tell if it is a Scam
ITRC Solution 13 – How do I Protect My Information on the Internet
ITRC Solution 19 – File Sharing and Peer - 2 - Peer Software Safety
ITRC Solution 20 – Email Account Take Over
Solution 25 - Detecting Scams
Solution 34 - IRS/ITRC Top 13 Things Taxpayers Should Know
Fact Sheet 142 - Protecting Your Computer from WiFi Dangers
Fact Sheet 147 - Risks of Mobile Applications
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