In our last blog in the series about protecting ourselves and our loved ones, we talked about protecting ourselves from manipulative phone calls. In this installment, we’ll talk about a similar threat: emails. While emails themselves are not dangerous, they become so when the sender of the email is trying to obtain your personal information for criminal purposes. 

There are several means these criminals will use to trick you into revealing your personal information. Here are the most common:

The email appears to be coming from someone you know or trust

The email may look like it is coming from a friend, co-worker, or your boss.  It may even have that person’s name listed. However, if you look closely at the email address, it may have one letter wrong or it may have extra characters at the end. 

Another clue is that the wording just doesn’t seem right; it isn’t the way your friend, co-worker, or boss would normally talk in an email. Perhaps the grammar is different or there are misspelled words. Or, the person may be asking you to do something they ordinarily wouldn’t.  If something doesn’t seem right, call them and ask if they sent you the email. If they did, maybe you can take care of it by phone. If they didn’t send the email, delete it. 

Similarly, the email may look like it is coming from your bank or a government agency. If the email from your bank is not expected, call your bank to confirm they sent it. This is especially important if the email is asking you to provide confidential information, open an attachment or click on a link. Also, remember that government agencies will not send you unsolicited emails asking for personal information or requesting you click on a link or open an attachment.

The email asks you to click on a link or open an attachment

The email may say there is a problem with your account or your account has been frozen. It may ask you to click on a link or open an attachment to correct the problem. Never click on a link or open an attachment without confirming with a phone call. Clicking the link or opening the attachment may install malicious software on your computer. 

The email demands money

One of the newest email scams is sextortion. The sender of the email has a password you have used in the past and claims that the password has given them access to your email contacts. The email goes on to say they had installed malware on a pornographic website you supposedly visited. They claim they were then able to access your computer and webcam and record what you were watching on the website and also film your reactions to what you were supposedly watching. Unless you pay them the money they demand, they will share the recording with everyone on your contact list. The best course of action is to immediately delete the email. 

The bottom line when it comes to protecting yourself from threatening emails is to always confirm with a phone call before providing personal information, clicking on a link, or opening an attachment. Remember not to use the phone number provided in the email. Instead, use the phone number you normally use to reach the other person or organization. 

At Crystal Financial, we are always concerned with our clients’ safety both financial and otherwise. If you have questions about staying safe or keeping your kids safe, please reach out!

Judith Ackland has more than 26 years of experience in accountancy and financial planning, including seventeen years as a CFO of a diverse business. She started Crystal Financial in 2010 to help a wide array of individuals, families, and business owners better understand their finances and how good financial management could help them achieve their goals. Judith has an MA in Professional Accountancy from the University of Nebraska at Lincoln as well as a Certified Public Accountant Certificate and a Certified Financial Planner designation.

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