If you have a computer and an email account you likely receive many spam messages, some which could be characterized as email scams; designed to defraud you of money or to steal your critical personal information (such as name, address, social security number, bank account numbers, etc.). Some of the more common scams are the Nigerian money scams, personal information phishing scams or just emails that state that someone is watching you at home or work and is planning on doing you or your loved ones harm.
The best advice you can follow is that if it seems "too good to be true" then it probably isn't true. Let's face it, people you do not know don't generally just give you free money, especially initiated by a random email or letter that you receive. Additionally, if someone is out to get you, you would probably be aware of it in some way other than from an anonymous email.
There are several internet sites like snopes.com or hoaxbusters.com that allow you to search for internet and email hoaxes by subject or using words or phrases from your particular email. These sites help inform the public by exposing the most common email and internet hoaxes. Many of these hoaxes or attempts to defraud are almost impossible for police to investigate and/or prosecute because those committing the hoax or fraud are in countries that do not cooperate on such matters with our government.
Of course if you are not sure if what to do you should contact your local police and/or report the incident to the IC3, the federal government's Internet Crime Complaint Center. IC3 works closely with police departments throughout the world, including the Chesterfield Police Department.
- Some tips to consider when evaluating suspicious emails:
- Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
- Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.
- Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders
- To ensure contributions are received and used for intended purposes, make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Validate the legitimacy of the organization by directly accessing the recognized charity or aid organization's website rather than following an alleged link to the site.
- Attempt to verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization by using various Internet-based resources, which also may assist in confirming the actual existence of the organization.
- Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
Some basic information about common email scams:
The "Nigerian" Email Scam