Electronic Mail

Official-Looking Emails May Be Scams

SUMMARY: Avoid getting caught by a phishing e-mail scam.


Be very careful if you receive an electronic mail message asking for personal information such as your credit card number and expiration date, driver's license number, social-security number, or password to an online service. Sometimes, official-looking email may seem to come from PayPal, eBay, Amazon, or your credit card company, and claim that due to a problem with your account, you need to re-enter some information on your site.

If you get these types of emails, be very cautious before clicking on the link in the e-mail and providing such information! If so, you might become the victim of what is called a phishing scam.

Many times such emails will provide links that supposedly go to the site claiming to ask for such details, but the links actually go elsewhere to scam sites. These sites can be made up to look exactly like an official-looking website, yet if you enter your personal information, you will most likely become the victim of identity theft. Credit cards numbers often are stolen this way and used by unscrupulous individuals.

If you ever receive e-mail asking for such information, either:

a) Ignore it if the e-mail comes from a company in which you have not previously done business, or

b) Contact the site in question. Type in the company's URL directly in your web browser and DO NOT use the link provided in the e-mail! Call the site's operator or leave them an e-mail using the site's official "contact us" or "feedback" link asking them if they indeed need you to provide information related to your account. More than likely the operator will say 'no' and state that you received a scam e-mail in your inbox.

Play it safe on the Internet and avoid phishing e-mails. Just because you get an e-mail from someone does not mean the e-mail actually came from the alleged individual or company. The e-mail 'from' address can be forged. Web links in electronic mail messages can be forged. If someone asks for private information via e-mail, go directly to the originating site by typing the URL in your browser and ask if they need account information, and why.

Return to the Electronic Mail page.

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About MalekTips and the Author

The MalekTips website was created in 1998 by of Envision Programming. The page's goal is to freely disperse computer-related tips, hints, and informative articles. Tips are organized to be easy to find, and are presented clearly, in easy-to-understand language.