Junk Mail, a.k.a. Spam
We’re going to put junk mail into three categories: Unwanted advertising email from companies or people unknown to you, unwanted newsy email from you contacts, and email lists that you have subscribed yourself to.
Sometimes, your email address is obtained by people or companies without your consent. You get on their “list” and then get showered with emails you don’t want. You can mark these emails as spam and your spam filter will begin sending them directly to your spam folder. You can also “block” the sender but this will only work for that particular address or domain. If you are being showered with a large number of emails, however, you may need to use a spam-filtering service. You can also create and use disposable email addresses.
Many of us have people in our lives who love to “bless” us with lots of email forwards that have touching stories, funny pictures, or maybe the latest political news or sensational “win a free iPad” alert. When you are the recipient of these emails, you may find yourself constantly deleting them, even without reading them. An alternative to having these hit your inbox all the time is to set up a filter for them to bypass your inbox. You can then go in another day and sort through them. Of course, you can also email your friend and ask them nicely to stop forwarding such messages to you.
Perhaps you’ve subscribed yourself to emails. They may be updates from your favorite store, web site, or pop star. If you like these emails, but you’re tired of sorting through them every day, you can create a filter to sort them automatically. If you no longer wish to receive them, simply unsubscribe. To avoid these in the first place, be careful to read what you agree to whenever you provide your email address. When making an online purchase at example.com you’ll often find a check box that opts you in to receiving emails from that company; there may also be one for emails from third parties. It’s usually best to un-check these options as they will save you from excessive emails. Don’t worry, this won’t prevent shipping alerts or account messages from being delivered.
Scams, Hoaxes, Dangerous Links & Attachments
If you’ve had email for any length of time, you’ve probably run across a message that contains some preposterous information--kind of like a tabloid. “Mrs. Bigfoot had a baby,” or “Target is giving away iPads.” First, just because it’s in print does not mean it’s true. If you forward the email without confirming the story, you could be helping to spread a rumor.
Second, if it’s “too good to be true” it usually is. While the stories you read may or may not be true, you should be especially cautious with anything that encourages you to click on a link or to download or open an attachment. Almost anytime it involves a “gift card” or expensive item “for free,” it’s a scam to get information from you.
Always be wary of an attachment. Unless you’re expecting an attachment, don’t open it. Do yourself a favor and just delete the email. Do your friends a favor and don’t forward it. Last week many people in our area received unexpected emails from their contacts that contained a malicious Google Docs file. The recent WannaCry ransomware attack is another example of a malicious attachment that was partly spread via phishing emails with PDF an DOC attachments with malicious links and macros. Remember, do not open or save files that you are not explicitly expecting!
A phishing email is one in which someone is “phishing” for information, usually login credentials. A popular phishing method is an email saying there is an issue with one your accounts, like your bank. There will be a link that takes you to a site that looks very similar to the service in question. You will then be asked to either log in to your account or to verify your credentials. These emails are very dangerous because they not only expose those account credentials, but since many people use the same email address and password for other accounts, many more services can now be accessed.
If you have a suspicious email, give us a call and we can help you discern whether or not it is a legitimate message.