Remember when junk mail filled your mailbox? Credit card applications for your dog. Ed McMahon telling you that you won the lottery. It wasn’t too hard to tell what was junk then.
If you have had an email for more than two days, you probably have realized that junk mail went digital. It can clog up your inbox in a New York minute. Some of the junk hasn’t changed. Credit offers. Store sales. Pleas for money from the cousin of the wife of the butler to the minister of some unheard of country. Those are the easy ones to sift out.
But then there are the ones that look strangely legitimate. Those from your bank warning of an impending overdrawn balance. Others from a shipper about your package that has been delayed. Are these for real? Probably not, and here’s how to tell.
Most “real” emails from a website or business that you use will use your account name in the email. You know how you can sign up for my email tip (in the box to the right, go ahead and sign up now)? I ask for your first name to personalize my emails to you. Then, you know that I know you and that you know me.
Most “real” emails will not ask for your account information or divulge information about your account, such as its overdrawn status.
An email might contain links to its site, but never use the links in the email. Always open an Internet browser and manually type in the website address, then login from there. Embedded links in an email can redirect you to a bogus website that captures your login information.
Finally, as always, if an email promises something too good to be true, it probably is. There is no such thing as winning the lottery by email.
Don’t fall for email scams. Be careful. Be pessimistic. Be safe.