Email scams. Everybody has dealt with them in at least one way or another. You know the classics: Nigerian prince looking to share his fortune with online strangers or the odd “you just won an iPhone!” claim, joyfully showing up in your inbox.
These sneaky messages designed to trick people into giving away personal or financial information have been around since the invention of the internet and are not going anywhere anytime soon.
Fortunately, as the internet developed, so did many ways to prevent these scammy emails from ever reaching your inbox. Most of them are detected by algorithms and sent to the spam folder straight away, without requiring any input from the user. Some of them, however, got more creative and came up with ingenious ways to game the system and grab your attention anyway. How to deal with email scam? There are plenty of things you can do to get those Nigerian princes off your back without much effort.
Fly Around the World With a VPN
Unfortunately, Virtual Private Networks won’t actually let you physically move anywhere you want (although they can help you get the best flight deals), but they have the ability to make it seem as though you are connecting from a different country every time you turn on your computer by assigning you to a different IP address. VPNs can literally make your IP vanish, which just so happens to be the name of one of the most popular services of this type. You can read more about IPVanish here: https://www.vpncompare.co.uk/ipvanish-vpn-review/.
So what do VPNs have to do with preventing email scams? Well, most of the time, these messages are sent out on a location basis, meaning that one batch of spam emails is dedicated to internet users connecting out of China, whereas another one is sent out to people in the United States.
Using a VPN lets you avoid getting targeted by the scammers’ algorithms, since your IP address changes on a daily basis – your social profiles and email account register logins from various locations around the world, rendering you an unlikely target for those cheats who find their victims based on location.
Double-check Those Checkboxes!
Nearly every website on the internet requires you to tick some sort of a checkbox before proceeding to its content – most likely, they’re legally obliged to include them so that you can agree to their cookies policy. It’s nothing new. Neither is the fact that pretty much no one reads the terms and conditions they agree to on the internet.
Cookies are a part of our daily lives nowadays and it’s nearly impossible to completely avoid being tracked by advertisers without giving up access to the content you want to look at. However, many companies and websites use this opportunity to sneak in additional terms and conditions that aren’t legally required, but grant them the right to use and manipulate your personal information. This includes your email address, which can then become a target for all sorts of scammy messages.
Most sites that use this technique to get a hold of people’s personal data usually set their pop-up window to “agree to all”, as it shows up on your screen. This means that by simply clicking “x” to close this annoying little window, you’re actually agreeing to whatever they’ve included in the fine print. This is why it’s so important to always double check these pop-ups! Most frequently, you will have the option to only agree to “functional cookies”, or even disagree to all, while still being able to access the website.
It only takes about 20 seconds of your time to skim through the conditions and uncheck the boxes that would allow pesky advertisers and spammers to reach out to you.
Stay Away From Dubious Business Opportunities
Those scams are particularly nasty, because they specifically rely on the desperation of people in dire financial circumstances to provide them with personal and financial information.
Social media platforms, especially Facebook groups, are riddled with these “job” offers. Most of the time they are presented as a quick way to earn some extra cash on the side by filling out short surveys or clicking on ads. While they most often do reimburse people with cash for these efforts, what they don’t reveal is the fact that they later on use their data for various purposes.
All the input from surveys and ad clicks is registered and saved by the perpetrator. This information is later used to send out scam offers to those who’d filled out the surveys. Additionally, many such “employers” take their workers’ personal information and publish articles and offers in their name. The worst part is that it is completely legal, since the victims unwittingly agreed to all of this by taking on the job.
In order to avoid falling victim to survey scams and get-rich-quick schemes, always vet your potential employers, even those you find online. Ask them about the company they work for, and don’t hesitate to bug them about signing some sort of a contract beforehand – it is crucial to have a written statement from the employer, explicitly stating that your information won’t be used for any malicious purposes.