Some parents allow children, as young as 5 or 6 to hold an email account. The list below, of the many scams that prey on email users, helps to explain why most email providers expect account holders to be 13 and over.
To keep them cyber safe, it is essential that you have this conversation with your child. The older they get the more likely they are to sign up for all sorts of things; games, competitions, websites of interest, and the more likely they are to attract spam. They need to know how to quickly identify what should be immediately deleted.
1. Disembodied links
Here are the types of emailed links that should make you especially wary:
- Links that are the only content in the body of an email
- Shortened links that don’t display the actual address, such as bit.ly and tinyurl
- Hyperlinked text (for the same reason as shortened links – there’s no indication of what you are clicking on)
When in doubt, don’t click. But to help you out, browsers such as Google Chrome can reveal a link’s full address when you hover over it with your mouse cursor. For shortened links, you can use nifty link expanders such as LongURL to view the real content before clicking.
2. Inordinate number of recipients
If you get an email with hundreds of email addresses in the recipient field, yet the message seems directed toward one person, your scam sense should be on high alert.
3. Vague, generic or non-existent subject lines
Sure, you send emails without subjects to your friends all the time, but if an email pops up from an unrecognised address with “(no subject)”, be careful. The same goes for vague or generic subject lines, including “Fwd: private” or “Free to look!” If you have no idea what you’re opening, it’s probably best to leave it alone.
4. Intense enthusiasm
WHEN IT COMES TO EMAIL SECURITY, CAPS LOCK CAN BE MORE THAN JUST ANNOYING – it can indicate spam. Overly enthusiastic emails with emphasis and exclamations (“I JUST LOST 45lbs W/ THE X-Fit fitness program!!1!!) are sure fire signs the information isn’t what it seems.
5. Grammar and spelling
You don’t have to be a grammar nut to notice odd mistakes in scam emails. Look out for questionable syntax and major typos, especially if the email supposedly comes from a reputable company or bank.
Also watch out for scammers that purposely misspell things to avoid your spam filter, such as “V1agr@” instead of “Viagra”.
6. Strange requests
This one’s easy: If someone is emailing you for medical assistance, “I need an operation or I will die” or writes “Help me cheat on my husband”, it’s just not legit. That’s what emergency contacts are for. And Snapchat.
People don’t typically use email to send urgent messages of an emergency nature. If you get an email that claims a situation is a matter of life or death – or a desperate person who needs money wired now – it’s safe to assume the sender wouldn’t be targeting you, a stranger, in the first place.
8. Sensitive information requests
Unfortunately, people accidentally send secure information to scammers more often than you would expect. This is how scammers (that is, smart scammers) operate – many ask for personal information (credit card numbers, passwords) and disguise emails to look official. Companies, schools, banks and other institutions won’t ask you to transmit sensitive information in an email.
9. Name-sender disagreement
Scam email addresses often have different names to dupe the recipient. Check the address before assuming something is true – an email from Match.com wouldn’t have the email address “firstname.lastname@example.org” (true story).
10. Sure fire guarantees
You should know by now that nothing on the internet is guaranteed. Promises to boost your sex life or quick money for working from home shouldn’t be taken seriously. “Watch this video and women will adore you?” More like: “Click this link and regret it.”
This post was originally published on Mashable and sent in to icybersafe by Damien ATKINSON-BUCK. Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology. Damien is an IT Teacher at The Ridgeway Campus, Ivanhoe Grammar School.
Read more: How To Spot An Email Scam | Emails, Scams.