Goldhawk Fights Back: Don’t Open That Email
This is a weekly column by Dale Goldhawk, Canada’s best-known consumer advocate. A journalist, author and broadcaster, Dale hosts Goldhawk Fights Back For You, on AM 740 or at AM740 ZoomerRadio, Monday through Friday from 11 am to 1 pm, in the eastern time zone. Visit his website at www.goldhawk.com.
It is getting harder and harder to weed out the fraudulent email that makes its way to your computer or cell phone inbox. Hackers and scammers have taken to using the names of reputable organizations including your bank to trick you into opening and complying with email requests. They also are using subject lines that seem to refer directly to your business or social activities.
One scheme warns you that your tax payment was rejected while another says your bank needs information to make sure your accounts have not been compromised.
Such emails and many others of this ilk direct you to websites where you are supposed to provide your passwords, account numbers and other personal or business details. This is called ‘phishing’ in Internet terminology and is a key way in which fraudsters get information they then use to steal your identity and, ultimately, your money.
The best protection against such tricks is not to open any email that is at all suspicious. But it is hard to avoid email that sounds as legitimate as it can be. How do you avoid opening a message that says ‘your order has been shipped,’ or ‘thank you for your recent payment’ or other such subject lines that either correspond with a recent transaction you have made or have you saying, “I didn’t order this” or “I didn’t make any payment.”
If you do yield to temptation and open the message and its attachments, you could be importing a virus which will infect your device or, worse, providing confidential information, including your email address, to a scammer out to defraud you.
Be aware, first, that no tax department or financial institution will ask you to provide confidential or security information via email or Internet forms unless they communicate with you through secure sites with logins and passwords you know have been issued by them.
If you are asked for any personal information including your email address by any site other than those processing a current transaction you are making, do not reply, access any links or submit any information to the sender.
Treat all unsolicited emails as suspect even if they come from businesses with which you have relationships such as your bank, telephone company or utility.
Gemini award nominee, journalist and broadcaster, Dale Goldhawk has earned Canada’s trust by his four decades of work exposing fraud and greed in the marketplace. To read more of his articles, go to www.Goldhawk.com (now part of the ZoomerMedia family of websites).
Don’t miss Goldhawk Fights Back , on the New AM740 Monday to Friday from 10 a.m. until 1 p.m.