Internet Safety Tips - Home
EMAIL THREATS (Spam,
Phishing & More!)| July, 13, 2009
Spam is any unsolicited
message or posting that is sent to multiple recipients, or multiple postings
of the same
message sent to newsgroups or list servers. Spam is the electronic
equivalent of junk mail. Different studies show that roughly half of
all spam mail is related to money—advertising get-rich-quick schemes,
debt-reduction plans, and gambling opportunities. A third of spam mail is
porn-based, and this figure is set to increase. About 10 percent is
health-related, and the remainder covers a wide variety of topics.
i-SAFE Inc. has created this list of tips to help you
respond appropriately to spam.
• Protect your e-mail address.
- Avoid giving your personal e-mail address to anyone other than family,
friends, or business associates.
- Create and use a separate e-mail address for public use (i.e. for posting
on Web forums, or registering or purchasing online, etc.).
that your e-mail address will not be shared or sold to a third party.
- Never display your e-mail address openly online, such as on public forums,
in chat rooms, or in profiles.
- When forwarding e-mails to others, copy and paste the text into a new
e-mail before sending. Simply clicking “Forward” also forwards the e-mail
address(es) of the prior recipients of the e-mail. Remind friends and family
to use this technique to avoid having your e-mail address forwarded to a
person(s) you do not know.
• Use technology to block spam.
- Check with your Internet service provider (ISP) to see what spam-blocking
utilities it offers and how to
- E-mail clients, such as Microsoft Outlook Express, have spam-blocking
features and message rules that can block e-mail from unwanted sources.
Check the “Help” tab to determine how to activate these features in your
• Never respond to spam.
- Ignore the “Unsubscribe” links in spam e-mails. If the e-mail you received
didn’t require a subscription, there is little probability that you will
stop the spam e-mails by unsubscribing. Instead, by responding to the
e-mail, you are essentially validating that your e-mail address is active
and being read. Professional spammers will often subsequently sell your
e-mail address to other spammers.
• Report spam e-mails.
- The United States has the CAN-SPAM ACT (Controlling the Assault of
Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act). To report any spam e-mails,
forward a copy of them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Identity thieves often “phish” for information by sending e-mail spam or
pop-up messages that appear to be legitimate
businesses or organizations (i.e. bank or online payment services that you
may deal with). These phishers lure their victims to counterfeit Web sites
that appear to be the legitimate sites. However, they are intended to trick
you into divulging information needed to steal your identity or perform
fraudulent acts. Viruses or malicious programs often accompany e-mails and
are secretly downloaded onto your computer to gather your personal and
Recognizing phishing e-mails is not always easy. Here are some tips to help
• Watch for bad spelling and grammar.
A careless scammer often makes spelling and grammar mistakes that would
otherwise be caught by a legitimate company’s proofreaders.
• Be aware of generic greetings.
Most companies will address you by your name or Web site username when
corresponding with you. Generic greetings, such as “Dear Valued Customer,”
should raise a red flag. Companies are not likely to send e-mails requiring
urgent requests for personal information.
• Look out for account suspension or cancellation warnings.
Scammers often use these scare tactics to trick their victims into
disclosing personal or financial information.
Here are some helpful tips and reminders that can be used to avoid and
respond appropriately to e-mail threats.
• Never directly respond to pop-up messages or e-mails asking for
personal or financial information.
Contact the organization via telephone, or go to the organization’s Web site
to verify your updated information. Legitimate companies never ask for
customer information by way of pop ups or e-mails.
• Never click on links within e-mails.
Open a new browser window, and directly type in the organization’s Web site
address—never copy and paste the link from the e-mail into the address bar.
Phishers create links that look like legitimate Web site URLs and then
redirect their victims to phony Web sites.
• Be cautious about opening e-mails or attachments, or downloading files
from e-mails, even if they appear to be from someone you know.
Scammers often spoof e-mail addresses to trick victims into believing they
are receiving e-mails from someone familiar. Best advice: If you receive an
e-mail with an attachment or file, contact the sender to see if they
actually sent you the e-mail. If so, save it to your hard drive, and run a
virus scan before opening it.
• Never use e-mail to provide personal or financial information to an
E-mail is not a secure method of transmitting personal data. If you must
provide your personal or financial information online, go to the
organization’s Web site and look for the lock icon, which is on the
browser’s status bar on the bottom left-hand corner or the “https” in the
URL address bar, to ensure it is a secure Web site.
OTHER IMPORTANT HELPFUL TIPS:
• Use antivirus, spam filters, pop-up
blockers, and antispyware software to further protect your system.
Antivirus software is essential to protect your computer from malicious
codes that might accompany spam.
Using spam filters and pop-up blockers will reduce the amount of spam you
get and lessen the number of phishing
attempts. Install antispyware software to detect programs that have
unknowingly been installed to track your online activities or gather
information without your knowledge. To ensure that new threats are
recognized, enable your software programs to regularly update via the
manufacturer’s Web site.
• Install a firewall.
A firewall creates a barrier between you and the Internet, providing a
further layer of protection against computer threats. A firewall is
especially important if you have a broadband or other high-speed Internet
• Act immediately if you believe you have been hooked by a phisher!
Notify your account holders immediately. Don’t forget to contact the credit
bureaus and request a fraud alert
on your credit files.
© Copyright Since 2006 i-SAFE Inc •
internet safety information has been provided by, and is the property of, i-Safe
and may not be reproduced without permission from
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