Scams and Scammers – Email

Article (PSA-0026)
Submitted by: Billy Joe Long
Company: PSA Computer Services
Titled: Scams and Scammers – Part 3 (Email)

There are many types of scams and scammers you may encounter throughout your life. In the last article we talked a little bit about “Phone Scams” and what you can do when it happens to you. In this article we will address “Email Scams”.

Like the other scams, the purpose of an email scam is to trick you into giving the scammer your personal information or allowing them to install malicious software on your device. The personal information they want will be important things, such as login passwords, user names, account numbers or your social security number. The malware they install will be used to gather information from your device and/or hijack your device in what is called a ransomware attack. Ransomware attacks render your device unuseable until you pay the fee required by the attackers. Even then it is highly unlikely they will actually remove the ransomware after you pay. Knowledge and a healthy dose of common sense will prevent them from accomplishing their goal.

Scammers attempt to get information from you by crafting clever emails that may make emotional plees for help, or emails which look like password reset notifications, or emails that appear to be from institutions you may be familiar with, such as the Government, IRS or banks.

For businesses it can get even more complicated as the scammers can get a lot of information about your business from publically accessible resources which enables them to craft very specific emails which can add to the “believability” of these messages. So what can you do to protect yourself and your business?

First, you must develop a distrust of all email. According to research conducted by Symantec, nearly 85% of all emails are spam or malicious. Their research indicates that almost 9 out of 10 emails were not considered legitimate messages and most of these emails contained malicious links or attachments designed to infect your computer.

Next, make sure you have all the basics covered. Keep your devices updated with security updates, make sure you have working antivirus and firewall software and ensure spam prevention settings have been configured for your email address.

Finally, be prepared to examine any email requesting information. If you’re to busy at the moment, do nothing with the email until you have time to examine it. What are you looking for in the email? Ask yourself, does this email make sense, do I have this service, this account, or this software? If not mark it as spam (or junk). Take a look at the From email address, does it make sense? Let’s say this is an email claiming to be from Netflix, and you have a Netflix account. As you examine the From address you notice its What would you do with this email? You should mark it as spam and delete it immediately. Look at the address closely: notice the address after the @ symbol …, that’s not right. We would expect something like How about this From address –, how’s that look to you? Look closely at the domain portion of the email (everything after the @ symbol). It says which is not Again mark as spam and delete.

It can take some time and practice, but be patient and thorough and you will be better protected from email scams.

If you have questions about email give PSA Computer Services a call at (707) 506-6802 or check us out on the web at