Hackers, phishers, viruses, worms,
spyware, adware, SPAM
simply having your computer
online can expose your data and personal information to all
kinds of malicious and worrisome problems. Are you practicing
email safety precautions?
If youre somewhat new to the 'net' or to computers in general,
these four caution tips about email safety could help protect you from identity theft,
credit card fraud, or a complete computer takeover all of
which can happen without you even knowing about it!
Whats in Your Inbox?
If your e-mail program allows you to
preview the entire message before or while it is being
downloaded, turn this setting off.
Some e-mails can contain dangerous code that could unknowingly
compromise your computer and leave you vulnerable to viruses,
worms or worse! Check the options in your e-mail program for a
way to disable the message preview pane.
Scrutinize Your Messages
Dont ever respond to messages
claiming to be from your bank, credit card company, or other
financial institution, which ask for personally identifiable
information such as card or account numbers, passwords, or other
private information even if the e-mail looks to have come from
the actual company.
It may be a hoax
designed to get you to
unknowingly part with crucial financial or private contact
information, leaving you vulnerable to credit card fraud,
identity theft or credit card
This is often called Phishing.
Contact the institution or company that claims to be sending the e-mail
and verify the contents of the message with them. Chances are
they never sent it. Only use the number on your statement
though, and not the number that appears in the e-mail message.
It may direct you right to the scammer, who will do everything
they can to assure you that nothing is wrong!
If its From a Friend, it must be Safe, Right?
to assume that a message from your friend or colleague is safe,
but that isnt always the case!
If you receive an email from a friend or colleague which
contains an attachment (could be a media clip, a screensaver, a
picture or anything else),
call them up to check and see if they
really did send it.
Many viruses and worms can hijack your computer and blast out a
virus-ridden email to everyone in your address book, making it
appear that it's a safe email message that came from you and therefore, making it appear
Read Your Messages in Plain Text
Some e-mails written in
HTML (the coding language that makes up many web pages) can be
harmless. Others can contain malicious code that can hijack your
e-mail program, browser, or your entire computer and send your
personal and financial information out to a hacker or scammer
without you even knowing about it!
Stay safe by setting your e-mail program to only show messages
in plain text format (often in the options or settings section
of the software). This will
prevent threatening code from installing itself and compromising
your system and private information.
Possibly one of the best ways to protect your e-mail is simply
by exercising common sense.
The Internet is a lot like a
crowded plaza. Would your
banker or credit card lender walk out into the middle of the
throng of people and shout out to you to ask for your account
Would you tell him where everyone could hear? Definitely not!
The same caution should be exercised when checking your e-mail.
These Caution tips can help
you stop scammers dead in their tracks while keeping you from
becoming another victim of fraud or theft.
... Richard Rossbauer