Back in the good old days of email scams, the so-called Nigerian princes ran rampant with the grammatically incorrect and highly unbelievable cries for help.

Over the years, security experts have come to understand that those ridiculous emails were intentionally bad; scammers didn’t want to waste their time with people who saw right through them, but rather only wanted to target gullible people who would fall for their tricks.

Now, with better capabilities, scammers no longer have to rely on crazy back stories to get victims to comply. All they have to do is get you to click on a link or open an attachment, and your computer is flooded with viruses and other malware. This gives the scammers access to your computer and all of your online accounts. You don’t have to send them money, they can simply take it right out of your account; with the right information from your computer, they can even steal your identity and open new lines of credit.

One common tactic is to use highly-visible, well-known companies as the bait. An email from Amazon claiming your order couldn’t be processed or a warning message from PayPal that your account has been suspended is just a couple of examples. Recently, there’s been a noticeable amount of traffic on phony Apple ID emails that look very real and claim your account has been put on hold due to login attempts from an unauthorized source.

What do those emails have in common? First, they look like they’re protecting you, so you’re more likely to sit up and take notice. They’re also using cut-and-pasted information from recognized internet retailers to make you think they’re genuine. Finally, the grammar level has gone way up in recent years because the goal isn’t to get you to fall for a weird story; the goal is to get you to believe this is real and click the link.



Either way, don’t fall for it. Never click on a link in an email that you weren’t expecting, and the same goes for opening an attachment or downloading some content. Instead, go directly to that company’s website and attempt to login. From there, reach out to customer support with the report of the scam. There’s an excellent chance you’ll find that nothing is wrong with your account and that the communication you received is yet another scam.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.