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How to manage spam emails

How to manage spam emails

Research by NSW Fair Trading shows 1 in 20 Australians will fall victim to a scam; whether that be through email, mail, telephone call, or some other form of communication.1 Dealing with – and protecting yourself – from scams through spam email is crucial. Spam is defined by the Australian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network as:

“… electronic junk mail - unsolicited messages sent by email, text message or instant message without the recipient’s consent. Spam messages often contain offers of free goods or ‘prizes’, cheap products, promises of wealth or other similar offers.”2

In addition to being aware of what may be a fraudulent scheme to take your money, you should also be wary of emails that could contain malicious software that may steal your computer data or load a virus onto your computer.

Examples of common scams

There are spam emails, and then there are scam emails. While they can both be annoying, scams may actually cost you precious time and money if you’re not careful. According to the ACMA, these are the scams you must be aware of and avoid3:

Phishing emails

These are sent from a false email address claiming to be a bank or credit card company. Once the recipient clicks the link, they are directed to a very legitimate-looking website that encourages the user to reveal financial details or personal information.

Nigerian scams

Nigerian scams ask you to send money in return for a promise of a future, larger lump sum being transferred into your bank account. This scam takes its name from the country Nigeria where this type of attack originated from – however, this type of scam now comes from all around the world.4

Work at home schemes, lottery wins or prizes

These scams require you to send the email sender money before you can claim your money “earned” or “won”.

Pharmaceutical scams

Pharmaceutical scams offer products which claim to boost your health or appearance.

Generally speaking, what’s happening in these situations is the sender relying on your naivety to click on a link. They think if the email looks legitimate enough, people will follow through with the request. The action is generally clicking a malicious link or file. This can give the sender remote access to your computer and everything that’s stored on it.5

What you can do

The best form of protection is prevention. Here are some tips from Stay Smart Online5:

  • Don’t share your email address online unless you absolutely have to, and know and trust the person you’re sharing it with.
  • Try to have separate email accounts for personal use and general use, such as for online shopping or purchases.
  • Use a spam filter. While Cloud-based email programs such as Gmail and Hotmail will offer this service generally, if you have another email platform you use it may be worth investigating its spam filter.
  • If the email looks like spam, delete it straight away. Don’t open it, as that may result in the integrity of your computer being compromised.
  • Before providing your email address online, have a read over the website’s privacy policy. This will generally tell you how the company will use the information you’ve provided, such as whether they share the information with third parties or not.
  • When you sign up for things online, always read through the default options before you hit confirm.
  • Never respond to emails that seem suspicious. Ignore the email, letter or SMS, and immediately discard of it.
  • Only click links in emails or open attachments from trusted sources. And if a message seems suspicious, contact the business or person separately to make sure the email was actually sent by them.

It’s important to remember scammers will use your emotions to get what they want, so you should always see if there’s another way to verify if the email or message is from the source it claims to be.

For example, if you receive an email stating it’s from the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), your first step should be to check the ATO’s ‘Scam Alert’ page, where they list any scams identified to be posing as the ATO illegitimately.

Where to report scams

There are a number of official ways to report scams and spam.6

Protect yourself against spam with these handy tips, and protect yourself against life’s uncertainties with the help of Australian Seniors Insurance Agency – providing cost-effective, tailored insurance products to Aussie seniors.


References

  1. Seniors guide to consumer rights in NSW Fair Trading NSW
    http://www.fairtrading.nsw.gov.au/biz_res/ftweb/pdfs/About_us/Publications/ft115.pdf
  2. Email spam and phisingAustralian Cybercrime Online Reporting Network
    https://www.acorn.gov.au/learn-about-cybercrime/email-spam-and-phishing
  3. Email scams and fraud Australian Communications and Media Authority
    https://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/email-scams-and-fraud
  4. Nigerian scams Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
    https://www.scamwatch.gov.au/types-of-scams/unexpected-money/nigerian-scams /
  5. Email Stay Smart Online
    https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/protect-yourself/protect-your-stuff/email
  6. Report spam Australian Communications and Media Authority
    https://www.acma.gov.au/theACMA/reporting-spam-i-acma /