There’s no question, email has made written communication faster, easier and more convenient. It allows us to work remotely and instantly connect with friends and family members from all over the world. Unfortunately, email has also opened the door to potential danger as it presents a powerful weapon used in identify theft, the fastest growing crime in America.
So how can you protect yourself from becoming a victim of email fraud?
It may sound cliché, but when it comes to email safety, knowledge really is power. It’s critical to understand where your email is vulnerable and to take steps to protect yourself. Here are some tips:
- Safeguard your personal email address. Only share it with friends, colleagues and family members. Never list it on social networking sites, websites or on public forums.
- Consider setting up a separate email address for purchasing goods or services online. Make sure to assign a unique password different from your personal email password.
- Never open attachments from people whom you do not know. Attachments are often where dangerous viruses are hidden.
- Do not click on links embedded in emails from people you do not know.
- Choose passwords that are difficult to discern by using combinations of letters and numbers and special characters. Never use easy to recognize passwords, such as your date of birth or the name of your dog. Be sure to change your passwords often.
- Set up spam filters in your email options.
- Log out of your email after each session. This is especially important if you are using a public computer at a library or Internet café, for example.
- Install and update anti virus software.
- Never send personal information, such as your bank account, social security, or credit card number in an email.
- Beware of phishing schemes. Phishing is when identity thieves send you emails posing as legitimate companies and ask you to provide confidential information.
For more information on email safety, including news and updates on the latest scams and techniques, visit fbi.gov and the FTC’s Identity Theft website.