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Common E-mail Threats and Scams

Updated on April 2, 2009

Just as you receive junk mail in your mail box, you will find spam in your inbox. The ultimate purpose and functionality are almost the same. However, e-mail spam comes with an added bonus: the possibility of containing harmful material such as viruses, worms or even attempts to steal your money or identity. For this reason, it is crucial that all e-mail users practice great caution when receiving that enticing e-mail stating you have just won the UK lottery.

There are various types of e-mail threats. People have become very creative lately in generating e-mails that pose as banks, lottery companies, government agencies and much more. These e-mails look very real and some even often carry an imitation of the company's logo or the same sort of official looking print. There are lots of variants of e-mail threats and new ones are created every day. Behind each e-mail lies the signature of a clever, yet malicious mind.

Common Threatening E-mails

-E-mails posing as Banks or other Financial Institutions

Typically these e-mails resemble the ones from your bank with the same company logo and official print. The message often contains information about your account. Usually, the e-mail states that your account has been compromised and you need to reset your password. This causes a sense of urgency in the receiver which may cause him to click on the link at the bottom of the e-mail to reset the password. This is ultimately what the author of this fraudulent e-mail wants. It wants you to use that fake link (which of course will not take you to the your real banking website) to enter your user name and password.

This user name and password is therefore recorded, and there they have all your banking information, address, phone number, what the type credit cards you own and what is in your banking accounts. Not only, now they even may use your online banking system to make a few purchases hoping you do not notice. And of course, they also have bonus information to steal your identity.

Fraudulent paypal e-mails are often sent out hoping the reader will give out their paypal account information. If one looks at these e-mails carefully it may be noted that there are some mistakes or typos in the way the URL link is typed. For instance, a link to paypal may be not many people are able to notice that the actual ''l'' from the word paypal is replaced by the number ''1''!

All these e-mails should be marked as spam and the actual fiancial institution should be informed about them.

-Emails posing as Job Offers

Everybody would like to work from home and make a nice $100 per hour just sitting in their pajamas. Most of these e-mails will want some sort of information from you in order to ''enroll'' you in their multi million generating businesses. The goal here is to steal your identity. Some once they have received your address, phone number and date of birth may tell you that they are a serious company and will want to report your potential earnings to the IRS so they will boldly ask for your social security number.

Once they have stolen all the information they could get they will never respond to your inquiries or they may redirect you to a website asking you for money to get started. 99 e-mails out of 100 offering you jobs are fraudulent. Jobs should never come to you unless they have a purpose. The purpose is to steal your identity or try to make you pay for an e-book that will promise you to get rich over night. Of course, this never comes true and the only money makers are the authors of the e-book laughing their way to the bank.

-E-mails posing as if you were the beneficiary

You have been selected to help transferring funds and will get a great commission if you help in the transaction. This type of scam is known as the Nigerian letter scam because they often come from Nigeria. However, they are quite international often claiming to come from Congo, the Ivory Coast, South Africa, the Mauritius and much more. Many times the author however, is residing in the US. or Europe.

The purpose is to obtain your bank account information so to forward you a share of money. Of course, then you will be told that you will incur in some custom fees in order to obtain the money and this is what makes the author of this e-mail rich. Even though this scam is pretty well known, there are still people falling for it and this is what makes the scam worthy.

-E-mails posing as lottery companies

You have just won the lottery! Of course the prize will have many zeros. But did you ever think that you have never entered any lotteries? How could you possibly win if you never participated? How are these people even aware of you? The scam works on letting the reader get excited from the victory. They will claim you have won a substantial portion of money and that they have sorted your e-mail address as the winner. Following they will ask you to contact them

Eager the victim contacts them to learn how to claim their money. At this point they will say that there are some fees and taxes involved in order for the payment to be released. Of course, they will ask for your bank account information.

-Emails Selling Products

These are perhaps the less threatening. They simply want you to purchase products or services from their websites. Even though they may in some cases offer legitimate transactions, you should refrain from purchasing from them because they have committed an infraction in sending you a spam e-mail. It is simply not worth the risk to purchase from them, rather, if you think their product is unique you can try to find a similar product in Ebay or Amazon, but with the peace of mind of a secure transaction.

Some of these e-mails offer services or may want you to sign up for their newsletter or to receive some free information. While giving out your e-mail may appear an innocuous act, in reality they may be able to sell your e-mail for a fee along with many others they collect in the same way. There is a big business consisting of selling emails and the author of such scam can make great profits out of you.

There are many other scams, but these are the most notorious. Dating scams will revolve around your romantic side hoping that you will pay to send and receive e-mails to a possible soul mate. Psychic scams will promise financial freedom, curse removals, and many years of luck for a fee. Charity scams will hope on your genoristy to help poor countries when the money actually will be cashed by the author of the e-mail.

Email threats as seen come in a wide array of forms. They ultimately have only 2 goals in mind: to steal your money or steal your identity or both.. Be very careful in opening unfamilar e-mails, they often may also have viruses and worms attached. Practice extreme caution, delete the e-mails and report them to your financial institution and to the FTC.


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    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      12 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Very thorough hub with vital information. Some of these should be "no brainers" but that's exactly how they getcha. I fell for one of the faux bank emails once -- hook, line and sinker. I was distracted and answering emails while multitasking and emotionally distraught. It LOOKED like my bank! It have the bank's logo -- and before I knew it, I had handed over my vital stats.

      At this point who hasn't received the Nigerian business person or government official seeking assistance scam? Gotta laugh.

      Know which ones I worry about these days? Emails in my inbox with just a first name saying "from Hubpages" and then the email is barely in English and wants to set up mutual communication. Hopefully they are not carrying anything harmful, but they are creepy!


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