There seems to be growing cases of identity thefts and credit card frauds and other forms of email scam as days go by. It seems that technology has somewhat made it easier for the fraudsters to steal and use personal and financial information from unknowing victims through a variety of techniques such as phishing and malwares. Staying informed is our best way to defend ourselves and protect our personal information from being phished through our emails.
How many times have you received emails stating that you won the lottery or someone is intending to do business with you and will deposit huge sums of money? There are also emails that “seem” to be coming from people that we know but if you check the sender’s email, most often than not, they’re from friends or acquaintances that we haven’t talk to in quite a long time.
I once got one of those emails stating that a friend is stranded in Europe and needed a few thousand of Euros to pay her hotel so she could leave and go back to our country. Due to the urgency of her email, I thought it was really true. And really felt bad for her and was thinking of some ways on how I could help.
But after giving the email a second look, I noticed that the sender’s email (and the cc too) have some variations of her email address copied.
Chances are, these inactive emails of people we know have been hacked and are being used to phish or scam the people in their address book.
Another example of a fraudulent email which I got in the past is about my Paypal Account being delimited and I was being asked to click the link to update my information so they could lift the “delimitation sanction”. At first glance it seems to be a valid email but when I looked closely at the email address, I noticed that the email seems to be not correct.
I didn’t do anything with the email and login instead to my Paypal to check if there’s a message left and there’s none. It almost got me the first time I received that kind of email.
One time I sent a package to my friend in Manila via the local post office in Luang Prabang. We have been waiting for the package to reach her for a month already and coincidentally she received an email from what it seemed to be an international courier service asking her to verify some information. She clicked on the link and she didn’t notice that a virus was downloaded to her pc. Before she was able to logout of her email, her laptop crashed. She sent me a message asking which courier company was transporting the package and said that it was the local post office and will go through our post office as well in Manila. She thought it was being shipped by a certain international shipping company that’s why she clicked on the link she saw in her email.
Her laptop didn’t turned on anymore and they had it repaired, what a hassle right! Luckily it was fixed and they were able to use the laptop again.
Some frauds are not only happening in emails but also in mobile communication through SMS. Last year while I was in India, I received a message from my Mom about a text message that she received from a person claiming to be “me”. He was asking for some money and claimed that I got into an emergency situation. Good thing my Mom sent me a message to verify it first or else she might have been a victim of this kind of scam.
As I was writing this post, I got an email in my Inbox from Quickbooks Invoice and it says:
Please find attached your invoices for the past months. Remit the payment by
08/15/2013 as outlines under our “Payment Terms” agreement.
Thank you for your business,
This e-mail has been sent from an automated system. PLEASE DO NOT REPLY.
The information contained in this message may be privileged, confidential and
protected from disclosure. If the reader of this message is not the intended
recipient, or an employee or agent responsible for delivering this message to the
intended recipient, you are hereby notified that any dissemination, distribution or
copying of this communication is strictly prohibited. If you have received this
communication in error, please notify your representative immediately and delete
this message from your computer. Thank you.
The email came with an attached zip file labeled as Invoice. I was trying to think if there’s anything that I missed paying online and can’t think of any. I also feel that it’s a spam but at the same time made me think that it might be valid since I do have some online transactions although I have never used nor my advertisers have used Quickbooks before.
So I Googled it and my suspicion got confirmed that it was indeed an email spreading an executable virus.
In case you receive a similar email, DO NOT CLICK ON THE FILE (labeled as Invoice).
Here are some basic tips on How to Stay Aware of Email Frauds while Traveling:
1. Always double check sender’s information: Check the sender’s email and all the copied email addresses if there are any.
2. Cross Reference Info with Reputable Source: Did the email seem to be coming from your bank but you’re not sure if it’s valid? Call your bank and verify that information. Did the information seem to come from a friend or family member? Give them a call and verify.
3. Mark emails: Gmail and other online email facility are becoming really good in catching spams and possibly fraudulent emails but sometimes, some spammy emails still get through our inboxes. Mark them as spam.
4. Use Anti-Virus, VPN and Firewall: These systems are your layers of protection from viruses and malwares that can possibly be downloaded to your pc without you knowing it. Make sure that you utilize these tools. There are numerous free software available like AVG and Hotspot Shield to mention a few.
5. Stay Inform: Knowledge is our first layer of protection from any form of scams. Try to read an article or two about these kind of things at least once a week. To make it simpler and easier for you to do this, subscribe to blogs, free online publication that talks about online security via RSS or Facebook.