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Protect Yourself from Email Phishing Scams

May 9, 2016

050916Identity theft has been a long-standing issue, and it doesn’t appear to be going away anytime soon. Thieves are on the lookout for new ways they can get your private information, which can then be used to steal your identity. Unexpected problems with your credit score can be the result of identity theft. When it comes to owning a home it is important to watch your credit score, checking for anything fishy going on, so you can get issues resolved quickly. This is especially so if you are in the market to buy a home and need a mortgage loan.

One way that identity thieves try to take your information is through email phishing scams. Phishing scams usually involve false and dishonest emails that look like they are legitimate. Often they appear to be from your bank, a service provider or even the IRS. The messages within them are written to get you to divulge your private information, thus allowing the thieves to access your accounts and steal your identity. These are on the rise again so I thought it would be helpful to give some red flags to watch for should you get any phishing emails.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Check email addresses If you get a message from someone you don’t know, check the sending email address. Phishers will create email domain names that are close to well-known names, but not quite the same, hoping you will not notice. For example, emails from Comcast will show they are from Joesmith@comcast.com. A phisher may have their email address read as joesmith@1.comcast.com.
  • Review the message carefully. The subject matter should match the business an email is supposed to be from. For example, if you get an email from someone with a generic email address you don’t recognize, and the message claims you have a legal issue or money is owed, it could be a scam.
  • For unfamiliar contact names, you can check the ‘To” field in a suspicious email; if the name and the email don’t match, you could be dealing with a phishing scam. Another thing to watch for is emails from names you know but with different email addresses. If you get an email from a friend but are not sure it is really from that person, play it safe and call your friend to ask if they sent you the message. It could be they have been sabotaged by a phishing scam themselves.
  • Check to see who else was sent the email. If you get an email you are suspicious about, check to see if others were sent the same message, and if so, do you recognize any names? If there are no other names but yours in the BCC field, and the sender’s name is in the TO field, this is often a red flag for a phishing scam.
  • Watch for correct grammar and spelling. Many fraudulent emails are filled with simple spelling mistakes or grammar is misused. When you see this, it is a red flag. If your name is misspelled, or is typed with only lower case letters, review the message carefully for other errors.

If you receive a suspicious email, and red flags are raised, the best course of action is to disregard the message. You can also report it to your email servicer so they can investigate the possibility of fraudulent email use. When in doubt, don’t reply, disregard and walk away. There is a great and entertaining video on YouTube that provides more ways to avoid phishing scams in your email. Check it out and protect yourself against these would-be identity thieves.

When you are ready to buy or sell a home, my team and I are ready to help you through the entire process. Our goal is to make your experience both easy and pleasurable. Contact us today at (925) 634-7820, or by email at realestate@cecily.com.

 

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