Email Spam and Scams

Definitions of Spam and Scam:

SpamE-mail spam, also known as junk e-mail or unsolicited bulk e-mail (UBE), is a subset of spam that involves nearly identical messages sent to numerous recipients by e-mail. Definitions of spam usually include the aspects that e-mail is unsolicited and sent in bulk.  E-mail spam has steadily grown since the early 1990s. Botnets, networks of virus-infected computers, are used to send about 80% of spam. 

Scam – Almost as soon as e-mail became widely used, it began to be used to defraud people via e-mail fraud. E-mail fraud can take the form of a “con game” or scam. Confidence tricks tend to exploit the inherent greed of their victims: the prospect of a ‘bargain’ or ‘something for nothing’ can be very tempting. E-mail fraud, as with other ‘bunco schemes’ relies on naive individuals who put their confidence in get-rich-quick schemes such as ‘too good to be true’ investments or offers to sell popular items at ‘impossibly low’ prices. Many people have lost their life savings due to fraud.

With the economy the way it is and internet usage growing, email spam and fraud is becoming more prevalent.  As a consumer we need to be more aware of these issues and become more cautious in how we deal with such emails.  I find it very sad when I hear that yet another victim had fallen for such fraud.  I feel it’s my duty as a computer technician to help inform you of how to avoid and reduce the amount of spam and email fraud you get in your inbox.  You may be asking yourself just how we got this spam to begin with.  Well it’s quite simple; every time you enter your email on a website form, you run the risk of that email address being sold to a third party.  From there it grows and you are then spammed. Often your email address is taken off of sites like Kijiji or Craig’s List.  Also if you have ever entered an online contest then expect to be spammed.  Sometimes our internet providers are the culprits and you are spammed just for being their client.

So how do we prevent spam?  The only sure way is to never give out your email address, but that defeat’s the purpose of having an email address to begin with.  The best thing to do is to take precautions to help reduce the amount of spam received.  Start by getting yourself an internet security package that includes anti-spam software.  Always make sure your internet security software is up to date on its virus/spam definitions. Find out if your internet provider has anti-spam filtering and enable it.  The next thing to do is to never respond to spam.  Once you respond, even to ask to be removed from their list, they will have confirmation of a valid email address and they will keep sending you more email.  So just delete it.

Email fraud can be a little harder to detect so therefore we need to be even more cautious.   For instance emails from your bank asking you to update your account information.  Is this a scam?  Of course it is.  Your bank will NEVER ask for your account information and they will NEVER ask you for your password.  If in doubt, call your bank and ask them before clicking on that email and inputting your information.

As a computer repair business owner I often get emails requesting to have work done on XX number of computers and they will be shipped to me for repair etc.  I will never fall for this because it is obvious to me that it’s a scam.  Business owners must be very careful with these emails especially in this economy when we need the business.  We must put aside our greed for that special deal or extra money and realize that we are being scammed almost on a daily basis.

So in conclusion:

  1. Get a good Internet Security package containing anti-spam software and keep it up to date.
  2. Ask your Internet Provider if they have anti-spam filtering and enable it
  3. Never respond to these emails just delete them
  4. Try not to fill out online forms if you really want to get yourself another email address such as Hotmail or Gmail (Google Mail)
  5. Be informed of these types of emails and be cautious
  6. If in doubt ask someone

I hope this helps someone from becoming yet another victim.  For advice please feel free to contact Scott’s Computer Emporium I would be more then happy to help you.

Sources:

Wikipedia for definitions, etc.

scamdex.com – excellent source on the latest email scams

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