Email spam is more than a simply annoyance, it's also a good chunk of the activity on the entire Internet. In 2010, an estimated 260 billion spam emails were sent per day making up 89% of all email communications. Though only a small percentage of spam email recipients fell victim to the scams included in these junk messages, victims lost almost $500 million to Internet crimes in 2011, according to the FBI. That breaks down to 26,000 complaints per month or one claim every 100 seconds.
Keeping yourself safe from joining those statistics takes a bit of information on what to look for in email spam and some common sense. Having a good antivirus program doesn't hurt either. Knowing the different types of email spam, such as the phishing scams, email address spoofing, Nigerian 419 scams and porn spam is the first step to protecting yourself. Understanding when it's wise to decline an amazing (and likely fraudulent) offer or when to double check that you're dealing with a real company, not just a spammer claiming to be a real company, is equally helpful.
As a general rule of thumb, always double check an offer, website URL or suspicious email before giving away any personal information, your secure password or any cash. With these tips and some common sense, even the Tech Impaired Duck can help fight different kinds of email spam. Remember, spammers only win if you let them!
Unsolicited bulk emails are pretty annoying as they stack up in your spam folder, but for the most part they are pretty low on the spam email ladder. Each day hundreds of billions of email advertisements are sent, most selling miracle weight loss cures, male enhancement products, knock-off merchandise, online degree programs and prescription drugs.Tip: In case it wasn't obvious, purchasing anything from these emails is almost assuredly a poor decision.
One of the hardest types of email spam to spot is phishing scam emails. These buggers are designed to look like official emails from financial institutions or big companies like eBay and PayPal, but actually direct victims to equally official looking scam sites. This tricks people into volunteering their usernames and passwords, which are then used by the site owners, the scammers, to compromise the real accounts.Tip: As a rule of thumb, always visit an official site, not whatever comes up when clicking a link in an email, and always check the URL before signing into any site.
Nigerian 419 Scams
If you have an email account, more than likely you've received a seemingly amazing offer out of the blue by some stranger from a faraway land. Someone claiming to be the agent for a long lost relative, a lottery service, an employer or even someone looking for love will offer a large sum of money, only asking for a small percentage in return for their time, insurance, shipping or other seemingly legit reason. The scammer then sends a fake check and asks for money to be wired back. Victims never receive the large sum from the check and are out the small fee, usually a few hundred or thousand dollars.Tip: Plain and simple, if it appears too good to be true, most likely it is.
More of a technique used to make other email spam tactics seem more believable, many spammers will send messages which appear to originate from a different email address than they actually do. This spoofing technique makes it appear as though a fraudulent email actually came from a trusted source, company or organization. This builds the trust of the victim, making them more likely to take part in whichever scam is included in the message.Tip: When in doubt, ask that person or company directly, offline, if they sent the message before handing over any personal information or money.