SecurityThe Internet can be a source of fun, entertainment, and valuable information. Unfortunately, it can also be a source of heartache for those who are unaware of common dangers. You may have the best virus protection and data backup in the world, but if you answer the wrong email you could be opening yourself up for a world of hurt.

There are a lot of email scams out there, and many of them appear to be completely legitimate communications from well-recognized businesses. Recently there have been bogus emails circulating that appear to be from the following companies, but are really just from scammers looking to trick you:

  • Paypal
  • Bank of America
  • eFax
  • Wells Fargo
  • UPS
  • USPS
  • FedEx
  • Dunn and Bradstreet
  • Better Business Bureau
  • LinkedIn
  • …and many others

It’s important to reiterate that these bogus emails are not affiliated with the above companies in any way. They are created by scammers for the purpose of gaining personal information from you, or planting a virus in your computer that will allow them access to your personal information. It’s important to think twice before opening any attachments in these emails, answering them, or following links to a supposed “company website”.

In the case of phony emails from banks, they are often trying to get your bank account number or login information. Others will direct you to open an attachment, which is really a virus that will attack your computer. In some cases you may be prompted to follow a link and visit a website which actually looks like an official company website.

So what can you do to protect yourself? Be on guard and think critically. Be aware of the web addresses of any companies with whom you do business, and rather than following links, go to the website with which you are familiar and log in that way. If the email in question is from a bank, call the bank yourself to verify whether there is a problem with your account. Remember that UPS and FedEx would not contact you about delivery of a package; they would probably contact the sender. And never open attachments in emails; call the company in question first and ask if they sent you anything.