Email scams and spam are perhaps as old as email itself.
Mastermind criminals make use of vicious traps and decoys to get unsuspecting people to click on their links.
All of us get at least half a dozen emails which smell of scams and forgeries every day.
Let’s admit that the smartest of spam filters are not good enough to keep these pernicious links and emails away.
10 Email Links You Should Avoid/ Never Click
Here are a few emails which you should KNOW never to click open and dispatch to the abysmal depths of your Trash Bin the moment you see them.
1. Money Found in a Bush/ Left Behind Blah Blah
Well, I won’t even elaborate on that. We all seen them much too frequently to know how to deal with them the moment we see them.
2. Comunicazione Importante
This Italian phrase meaning “Important Communication” is often used by cybercriminals to send us emails which could either take you to websites ridden with malware or trick you into clicking on certain links which will then cause you to download spyware on your system.
All your personal data and information then stands at the risk of falling into the hands of persons who lurk around the internet looking for susceptible people like you.
If you see anything titled “Comunicazione importante”, you need not even open the mail to see what lies within.
Simply delete it.
3. “Dear Customer…” or “Dear User…”
This is another favourite opening line with most hackers and cyber criminals.
These emails contain links to sites which might look genuine but are not.
There have been instances of people being led to sites which looked similar to that of “American Airlines” or “XYZ Bank” and asked to fill in their email address, phone number and/ or address.
4. Undelivered mail returned to sender
This is another guise in the garb of which many criminals carry out their nefarious activities.
While most of us might be smart enough to make out other spam or bulk emails from the genuine messages in our folder, this is one message we usually we will not ignore.
Most of us would want to know which of our messages failed to get across, and check the email while hoping that it was not an important message.
But if you come across an attachment or a link on opening that message, watch out.
Do NOT download any such attachment or click on the links therein.
Definitely an email link you should never click on.
5. Invitation to Connect on LinkedIn
This is one of the latest phishing techniques being used by cyber criminals.
While not ALL such email messages should be treated as spam, you should have reasons to be wary if you do not as much as have a LinkedIn profile.
Even if you do have one, never click on the links given inside the message or unless the person sending you the Invite is known to you personally.
Better still, log in to your LinkedIn profile and check all the Pending Invitations from there. This will make sure that you do not click on any questionable links.
6. Messages from Microsoft Inc.
Trust the con men out there to outsmart you every time you think you will not take the bait.
In a recent incident, people were contacted by scamsters who posed to be Microsoft Employees. These ‘employees’ later told the people who bothered to open their emails that their computer had been hit by a deadly virus. They were then told that their problem would be taken care of by Microsoft if they click on the mentioned link. The conmen who operate in this manner claim to work for Windows Help desk or Microsoft Research and Development Team.
Better Business Bureau warns unsuspecting people from clicking on these links since they “can install malicious software, steal personal information, take control of the computer remotely or direct consumers to fraudulent websites where they are asked to enter their credit card information,”
To avoid being scammed, do not part with any personal information.
Giving them remote access to your system while you watch on would be a safer alternative. Better still, confirm the genuineness of the credentials of the person who is offering to help you by contacting Microsoft directly.
7. Authority Scam Emails
Sensing that any messages (whether telephone calls, emails or sms messages) pertaining to accounts, credit cards and tax returns do not go unignored and get the speediest of reactions, some smart scamsters attempt to impersonate banks, taxation authorities, credit card authorities, PayPal, etc.
A report released by Kaspersky, a leading Internet security company, reveals that 20% of the phishing attempts are made by people impersonating as banks.
To avoid falling prey to such crooks, avoid knee jerk reactions.
Every time you get an email from PayPal, your bank or the Income Tax Department, draw a deep breath.
No government department or financial institution will ever ask you for confidential information online. If you ever get an email message from anyone posing as a government employee or an institution, keep in mind that they should NOT ask you for your account usernames and passwords.
8. Unfamiliar Mobile Apps
Many of us access the internet and our email accounts from our cell phones. With the increasing popularity of mobile devices, the scammers have now started targeting mobile users too.
McAfee has reported a 35% increase in the number of malware attacks on mobile phone devices in the second quarter of 2013.
This number and percentage is bound to go higher as the cyber criminals targeting these handheld devices have now seen to be adding newer skills to their repertoire.
The most deadly links you could click over your mobile phone are the dating apps, email messages from your ‘bank’ or ‘credit card company’ or the various mobile apps.
Keep in mind that simply seeing an app over the play store does NOT mean that it is safe for you or your device.
Check yourself. No matter how cool or alluring the app looks, don’t bite the bait.
Fake looking apps could contain links which could make you a puppet in the hands of these smart criminals by allowing them to track your exact location, all the data over your device (contacts, email ids, messages, etc.).
It sure is.
To avoid this from happening to you, make sure you do not click on unauthorized apps before checking its genuineness for sure.
9. Emails Containing Links to Porn Sites
As any surfer would admit, the temptation to click on the pic of a scantily clad hot female inviting you for an ‘intimate’ chat is almost too difficult to resist.
Wanting to test these sites ‘simply for fun’ can land you in a lot more trouble than you could have imagined.
A friend in the US, who did so recently, got a serious shock as his computer screen got frozen with messages from the National Security Administration’s Internet Surveillance Program reading: “Your computer has been locked due to suspicion of illegal content downloading and distribution.”
He was then offered a choice- facing prosecution for downloading child pornography or paying heavy fines immediately.
To avoid paying hefty ransoms, never try such sites. Avoid clicking such email links to avoid unnecessary and avoidable headache.
10. Other Old Fashioned Email Scams and Frauds
Besides these newer methods being tried out by frauds, there are those conventional old fashioned frauds and scams which have been around for a long time now. They include:
o Chain letters
o Health and diet scams
o Fake business opportunities and work from home scams
o Bulk email offers
o Job opportunities
o Online earning ventures
o Discount offers
The best way of dealing with such email scams is, of course, not clicking on them at all.
Besides this, take the following precautions:
· Filter out the spam.
· Never trust email offers which are just too good. The thumb rule being, as we have said earlier, “If it is too good to be believed, it probably is”.
· Do not click links from unsolicited emails unless you have verified the credentials completely.
· Be very cautious about downloading email attachments.
· Install an antivirus and keep it up to date. For best results, opt for a paid version.
· Install a personal firewall and update it regularly.
This, according to me, is a very comprehensive list of email links you should never click. And on all the precautions you need to take to make sure you are not scammed.
Have you come across any other forms of email frauds against which you would want to warn our readers?
Write to us and share your experiences with us.