“To keep a person ignorant is to place them in a cage”– Julian Assange.
Remember that time you first received an e-mail on your Yahoo account stating that you won a lottery worth GBP 7,50,000 and that you had to send in your Credit Card ‘details’ to claim the money?
And that other time when you got an e-mail in your Rediff mail inbox saying that you could earn Rs. 2,00,000 a month by simply working from home?
Or how about that SMS you received a few months ago from an unknown lady who had USD 5, 00,000 that she wanted to donate as charity and didn’t know how to go about it?
According to a study, the top three online scams in India are ‘work-from-home’ scams, lottery scams and fake bank e-mail scams.
Since demonetisation, we’ve moved firmly towards a paperless economy era, which means many of us are now switching to online transactions that require us to have a presence on the internet.
So, even if you’re using your net banking facility, you need an e-mail id to register as a user and to receive alerts from your bank. Even when you’re making an online payment, your One Time Password (OTP) is usually sent to your e-mail id as well as your registered mobile number.
Additional Reading: What Demonetisation Taught Us About Money Management
This is why we are automatically prone to internet scams and fraudsters who lurk behind a screen. Phishing attacks are common and they’ve increased over the last few years. Without tight internet security systems, an individual or a company may be vulnerable to such attacks.
In fact, malicious phishing emails these days are a lot more sophisticated and legit than an e-mail blatantly asking you for the Card Verification Value (CVV) details of your Credit or Debit Card. So, you need to be doubly careful about these sophisticated phishing e-mails.
Additional Reading: New Bank Manual To Address Cyber Fraud
But first, what is phishing?
It is the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and Credit Card numbers.
Here are 9 ways to identify an email scam.
- Spoofy Display Name Of Sender
Spoofing email domains is a rather common practise for cyber rookies. That’s why at a first glance, a phishing email may look authentic, further encouraging you to click on it. Often your email account will show you a display name rather than the entire email address.
Suppose you receive an email from an id called “email@example.com” for example, then your inbox will display that you received an email from “HR”. Now, while “HR” is short for human resource, it can be misleading too. So, be wary of such display names in your inbox.
Additional Reading: Do Not Be Game To Fraud Attacks
- Check For Embedded URLs
Even if you did open that suspicious email you had a sneaky feeling about, there’s another check in place to confirm your doubts. Most phishing emails will have embedded links in the body of the email. So, when you hover your mouse over it, you will be able to see the URL.
And if you want to check the URL’s authenticity, then you can type that URL in a new window to cross check. If the hyperlinked address is different from the one that is displayed, then you’ve opened a suspicious email. So, don’t click on it any further and just delete it.
- Grammar and Spelling Check
A well-established company will never risk its reputation by sending out badly written content. On the other hand, content creation may not be a cyber crooks forte.
Keeping that in mind, look out for spelling and grammatical errors in the email you’ve received, and if you think it is poorly written and doesn’t match up to the company’s standards then you are most likely right.
But, also be on the lookout for little typos that miss the naked eye. For instance, an additional ‘a’ in the word ‘Bank’, missing prepositions, incorrect tenses etc could be great pointers.
At BankBazaar, we pay great attention to detail and grammar, don’t believe us? Check out our blog.
- Too Good To Be True
The true mark of a scam email is when they’re making you an offer you can’t resist. Perhaps they’re giving you a job abroad with guaranteed citizenship of that country and a pay package that’s a little less than a million dollars. Or, maybe they’re giving away cash for free! Whatever their tactic, their offer is most likely something that’ll wow you.
That’s exactly why you must be wary of it. Think about it, why would someone offer you a job out of the blue? Or why would someone reach out to you to help them stash their millions?
Speaking of offers, have you checked out these special offers on loans for women?
- Check For Threatening Language
Emails with subject lines such as these – “Your account has been revoked”, “Failed login attempt”, or “Last day to register” often receive a lot of attention simply because, at first glance, they are most likely to induce you into doing as they say out of fear.
Often, such emails demand that you send in your personal information to “authenticate” the request. Now, this is a trap. No company would ever write to you in a threatening manner. They know better than that.
The only threat you should worry about is your health, and that’s why you must consider opting for the terminal illness benefit.
- A Signature Or Lack Of One
Legitimate businesses always provide contact details. But, in case of a scam, the sender isn’t going to leave a trail. And so, there will be no signature or contact details of the sender.
But sometimes, you could receive an email that has all these contact details and it won’t hurt to dial that number to verify the sender’s identity.
Hey! But if you’re trying to contact US, we’ll be sure to answer your calls.
An attachment in the email sent from an unknown sender could be anything from a virus that will steal your passwords, to malware which can spy on your internet activity.
The minute you click on it or download it on your desktop, you’ll be putting yourself in harm’s way. Don’t let your curiosity get to the better of you. Just delete any email attachments that you aren’t expecting.
Attachments remind us of Credit Cards, Personal, Home and Car Loans, which are easy to get attached too as well. Do check them out.
- Personal Information
Most reputed organisations wouldn’t collect your personal information over email. They’d either ask you to submit it directly on their secure websites or simply ask you to drop them in their offices.
However, you must exercise caution when you respond to any other emails that request your personal information. The best thing is to delete them or report them as phishing emails so that they can be blocked by your web-account provider in future.
Additional Reading: 4 Ways To Protect Your Debit Card From Cyber Crooks
- Asking To Wire Funds
One of the most popular scams of all times is an email that says you won a premium luxury car. And in order to get that car, you have to pay customs to bring it into the country of your residence.
Well, that’s quite believable because importing luxury goods can attract customs and tax. However, don’t be fooled. The minute you wire out the ‘customs duty fee’ you become a victim to fraud.
Additional Reading: No More Mis-selling: RBI To The Rescue
Phishers are quite a talented bunch and they may go to great lengths to make you believe that their scam is a genuine request. Copying logos, and using sophisticated language to pose as a legitimate business may just be smaller components of a bigger scam. The bottom line is to not believe everything that you see.
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