Tech Tip – 8/1/2018

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    Recognizing fraudulent emails

    You probably see them frequently, maybe even multiple times per day. They’re annoying and many times they look completely legitimate, claiming to be from your credit card company, Amazon, Facebook, or even the U.S. government who may have a legitimate reason for having your personal or financial information on file. The goal of these phishing emails is to get you to click on the link in their email and log in to the seemingly legitimate website so the crooks can record your login credentials all without you realizing you’re actually logging into a fake version of the organization’s website. How do they do it? The fake emails and websites are created to look like exact, or almost exact, copies of the legitimate email or website with valid contact information, logos, verbiage, and all the other pieces you might see on a legitimate email or website.

    When you attempt to log into the fake site you may find that the login form doesn’t work and instead, gives you a legitimate looking error message after you’ve entered your login credentials. Once you’ve entered your login credentials onto one of these sites, it’s too late and the crooks already have your login credentials for the legitimate site. And it doesn’t take long for the crooks to log into the legitimate site as you and take what they can get from that account. What’s even worse is when you use the same login credentials for several other websites. The crooks can not only clean you out and scrape your information on one website, they can move on to any other website you may use those login credentials on.

    Is it time to just take yourself off the world wide web? Is that the only way you’ll avoid falling victim to the crooks? No. These emails are actually fairly easy to pick out if you know what to look for:

    • The verbiage on the email or website often uses poorly constructed English, similar to a bad translation you might see on Google Translate. Many times these emails and websites are written by non-native English speakers and originate from outside the U.S.
    • In almost every case the email is not addressed to you but uses a generic reference like “valued customer” or even just your email address.
    • There will be a button or link to visit the organization’s website to login or update your personal or financial information.

    Never click on a button or link in an email if you suspect it could potentially be a phishing email. The best thing you can do is visit the website directly and log into your account from there. If it’s a legitimate email the organization in quest will usually alert you to update your information as soon as you’ve logged in.

    And if you happen to click the link in a fraudulent email you should immediately run a malware scan and virus scan on your computer.

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