Email phishing schemes are big business for thieves: The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov) estimates that this type of fraud resulted in more than $5 billion in losses between October 2013 and the end of 2016. Here are some tips to help you spot a phishing scheme.
- The email address – Email addresses can easily be spoofed to look like they came from a friend or relative, or perhaps a well-known business. The address is important because it helps the thief appear legitimate.
- The appearance – The body of the email can easily include a company’s logo or other official-looking information. You’ll want to check for other signs of fraud, such as poor grammar or threatening language.
- Requests for personal information – Be suspicious if an email requests your login information, Social Security number, date of birth, credit card number, account number or other sensitive personal information. Reputable organizations generally do not ask for this type of information unless you initiated the conversation.
- A sense of urgency – Phishing schemes try to persuade you to act now and think later. The email may offer you a chance to earn quick cash or claim there is a problem with your account that must be addressed immediately.
- Links and attachments – Hackers will include bad links or attachments in their emails. If you click on or open them, it could install viruses or malicious software on your device, which then gives them access to your history.
Don’t take the bait
Delete suspicious emails without clicking on anything in them. If you’re unsure whether a family member, friend or company needs to reach you, contact them through a phone number you already know or an email address listed on their official website.
If you’d like to report a phishing scheme, forward the email to firstname.lastname@example.org and to the actual company, bank or organization impersonated in the email.
For more tips on how to protect yourself, visit www.edwardjones.com/fraud or https://identitytheft.gov.
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