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3 Common Email Scams and How to Avoid Them

3 Common Email Scams and How to Avoid Them


Throughout the many years of using email, you’ve undoubtedly encountered a wide range of spam, hoaxes, and attempted scams in your inbox. While some scams are well-known and exceptionally obvious, others can be harder to detect.

According to a Cloudmark survey, over 85% of organizations have been impacted from phishing attacks (a form of email scam) in the past 12 months, and suffered an average financial cost of $1.6 million. For this reason, it’s imperative to be aware of common email scams to know how to avoid them:

Common Types of Email Scammers

1. Mystery Shopper Email Scam

This scam lures people with the appearance of an advertisement for a lucrative work-at-home, paid shopping opportunity. The subject line from a Mystery Shopper Email Scam often promises a hefty paycheck for doing little more than shopping.

No education or experience is required, and prospects are told the job will pay several hundred dollars per day. The scam benefits cybercriminals by requiring expensive “training” for a job that doesn’t exist.

Some variations ask job seekers to share their address or banking information. Others even receive checks with the requirement to wire back some of the money for more training materials. After the money is sent, victims discover their paycheck bounces. They lose the money sent to scammers as well as overdraft fees.

2. PayPal Email Scam

With more than 190 million people registered to PayPal worldwide, it’s no surprise that cybercriminals have targeted account to access funds. With this scam, victims are sent an email claiming their PayPal account has been breached. Messages like this are intended to motivate recipients to respond quickly, often without thinking about the possibility of a scam.

The data stolen varies, but this scam has been used to access people’s PayPal accounts, obtain banking information, and steal the contact information of friends and associates.

3. Foreign Lottery Scam

The foreign lottery scam has been circulating for several years. The subject line of the email offers congratulations related to the supposed winning of a foreign lottery. Victims are frequently informed they’ve won hundreds of thousands of dollars.

They’re promised the funds only if they divulge personal information, including birth date and even banking information. Days and sometimes even hours after providing this information, victims learn their bank accounts have been emptied.

What to do with Scam Emails

There are a few simple tips to help protect yourself from these and other common email scams.

These include:
  • Do your research: If an email states you’ve won the lottery, been hired for a job, or been bequeathed a settlement, do a quick Google search. You’ll likely learn that no such promise exists and may even find other reports of a similar scam.
  • Pay attention to the sender: Large brands such as banks, lotteries and companies don’t have personal or cryptic email addresses. If you receive emails from a brand, but the email address uses strange numbering or symbols, this should raise a red flag.
  • Legitimate organizations and businesses never threaten: Email scams often reach desperate lows by threatening their attempted victims with a variation of loss or consequence if they do not respond. Credible employers, banks, lawyers, and lottery organizations would never practice this level of unprofessionalism.
  • Remember, if you didn’t enter a lottery, you won’t win. If you didn’t apply for a job, it should be suspicious that you’re offered a position and if you didn’t know of a very wealthy family member overseas prior to their death, you probably didn’t have one.

    Be cautious and stay safe online. If you’ve fallen victim to email scams, it can often result in lost data or a corrupted hard drive.

    Let us know if we can help restore your data! Submit an online help form to get started or call us at 1-800-388-1266.

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