We mentioned it a few weeks back, but there are some major ones going around right now and we think it’s worth a few quick pointers on how to avoid being scammed. Please note, if you are internet savvy, this may seem very basic to you. Still, being that you know enough about the internet to spot a scam when you see it, it’s worth informing your friends and family, some of whom may not know better, of what’s out there.
While all of this stuff may seem obvious to us, it’s not always as obvious for Mom, Dad, Grandpa or Grandma. Like we said, it’s our duty to help them protect their finances by informing them of the junk that’s out there. Let’s take a look at some simple tips to avoid being scammed.
Red Flag 1) It’s in the Spam Folder
Services like Gmail have decent spam filters. At least in our experience. From time to time it does filter out legit email, but for the most part, it does a good job of keeping you safe from phishing. Know that it’s not the final judge of what’s good and what isn’t, but it’s your first line of defense from those with malicious intent. 99 percent of the time, if it’s in the spam folder, it’s not worth looking at. The other 1 percent is for those times when it filters out legit emails. Still, it’s ALWAYS safer to simply delete either way, which brings us to our next point.
Red Flag 2) Companies Do Not Ask You for Your Account Information
Companies do not, EVER, that we have seen in our long history of using the internet, ask you for your account information. They just don’t. If there are any issues, such as the PlayStation security breach, they will publicly disclose the news to the media via press release. We’ve never had a company send an email with a link asking us to sign in. If anyone asks you this, just delete it. This goes for everyone: Netflix, Apple, Sony, PayPal, Amazon and so on. Again, we can’t stress this one enough: If you receive any email asking you to sign in by clicking a link, no matter how convinced you are that it’s real, no matter how sincere or genuine they sound, delete it. Don’t even bother going to the link. Just delete it, mark it as spam, and move on.
Here are some examples of the emails we’ve received in the past:
This one is a bit more obvious because the idiot sending it out seems to think my name is Netflix. Still, not everyone will make that mistake. What’s more, it says it comes from “Info@netflix.com” we know this is a scam, but an unknowing target may see the email and that it comes from “netflix.com” and think that their account has actually been suspended. Delete.
There is also this half-baked image of an “iPhone 5″ of in this case, an iPhone 5GS. It’s particularly silly because it uses several images that the person probably found via Google search. For instance, the clear iPhone. The other is just an iPhone 4 with giant number 5 shopped onto it. We do like that they try to offer the first part up as “transparent mode.”
Here are two images from the email message:
Recognize that second one? Someone just took a stock image of the Keyboard Buddy Case for the iPhone 4 and added it to the email.
Red Flag 3) Weird URLs and Sign-in Screens
Just to show you, we’ve gone to the fake Netflix to show you what the URL looks like. It’s not a real Netflix URL. Scammers will try to fool you, but if you have any issues with a service, you should always go to their website from your navigation bar. That means manually type in Netflix.com. Don’t follow a link. Ever.
This is the fake sign-in screen. It looks real at a glance. That’s the idea. They are just trying to get you to “sign in”, which just means you are handing over your account information.
We “logged in” with a totally bogus email at a bogus URL and a totally bogus password which were both made up on the spot, and we were taken to a part of the site that asked for our credit card information. Somewhere, some scammer thinks that he has TheCacaMonster@poopoocaaca.com’s login information. We didn’t go beyond that, but it just shows that these people are bad and want to steal any information they can.
Again, this is all stuff that seems obvious to most of us. Still, there are many who don’t know what’s out there. It’s easy to fool someone who hasn’t had as much exposure to the internet that these sites are legitimate. They may genuinely thing that Netflix is sending them an email. It’s sad that scammers prey on those people, who are typically older and may not understand how some of this stuff works.