How do you spot the fakes?
A number of web sites exist to expose fake and fraud emails.
If you are unsure if an email or website is genuine then check these sites to see if it is listed there as a fake. A quick search here could save you a lot of embarrassment!
Snopes is a really great site for checking out anything you think might be an urban legend, hoax or scam. It keeps a huge archive of examples of urban legends, myths and hoaxes – so if you do have suspicions about an email check this site to see if it is a hoax.
Office of Fair Trading: Advice on Scams gives the official line on what to do if you become a victim of Internet fraud and has good advice on how to spot scams and frauds.
Scambusters gives information about how to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft, or of frauds such as pyramid selling, or money laundering scams.
Urban legends can be harmless but only if you realise they are not actually true!
What are urban legends? These are stories or rumours that have been circulated from person to person. In the past they were spread by word of mouth but now are often spread via email or web sites. Some may originally have contained elements of truth, but have become distorted by mistakes being made in the retelling.
Others have been complete fabrications from the start.
NB. Warning: if an email contains a phrase like: “Please, send this message to as many people possible!!!!” it should alert you to the idea that you may be looking at an urban legend and so the last thing you should do is forward the email to anyone.
The Internet is awash with false information, which people endlessly forward on to others believing it to be true. They become SPAM that clogs up the networks and peoples’ email, misinforms them and wastes their valuable time.
It’s a rare computer user who hasn’t been bothered by Spam at some stage. By Spam, we mean unsolicited emails that try to sell you things of a dubious nature that you certainly didn’t ask for and, in all probability, don’t need. Everybody hates spam. It can clog up your email box, threaten the security of your PC, try to trick you into opening dangerous attachments, and even render the mail box entirely unusable. Most email programs have a spam filter. Select the spam email and click on “spam” to let the program know its spam email and will block it next time. Do this for all spam email will soon clean up your inbox. NB: Please do not send on emails with other peoples email address attached to it.
Disposable E-mail services
One way to beat spam is to use a disposable e-mail service. These are particular useful If you would like to try some free service that is offered on the Internet but are reluctant to provide your email address because it might lead to spam? Don’t worry, you don,t have to skip that free service – use a disposable email address such as 10 minute mail service, or if you want a it a bit longer you can use Guerrilla Mail – Creates temporary addresses that last 60 minutes. Your real address not required and no registration required. Also check out Spamgourmet which is a free service that can help, the first 3 messages to that address will be delivered to Gmail, and all others will be lost. You can change the limit if you wish.
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Many Internet fraudsters use a technique called “phishing” – sending out hoax emails, which look like they have come from your Bank or other online account such as Ebay or Paypal.
They often say that there has been a problem with unauthorised access to your account, or that you need to reconfirm your details for security reasons. One thing to look out for is there are usually not addressed to you by name and usually just say Dear Customer. Banks have stressed that they do not send out emails. if you do click on a link on the email it will take you to a page that could look like it belongs to your bank, where you will be asked to enter your passwords and personal information.
If you followed these instructions and entered your details you would be enabling the fraudsters to access your accounts.
It might be safer to use a search engine to find the web site of your bank than a link in an unverifiable email.