Voices From the Lab: Email Safety Tips for All Ages

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At symbol for email addressesA computer is an amazing tool.  And email is the best tool in the box.  As with any shiny, new tool, it comes with inherent dangers that a new user might not see coming.  A new user, senior citizen and children are most at risk of being taken advantage of online.Here are some of the main safety tips for using email – for any age:

  • If you know for a fact you are not related to royalty (of any country) then the email message asking for financial help is a scam.  Many people are ‘taken’ by this particular email scam because it promises returned wealth.   There is no prince trying to reach you so that you may help him obtain his inheritance.  Sorry… Please don’t hit reply, unsubscribe or interact in any way with this particular type of message; just delete it.
  • Never open an attachment you aren’t 100 % sure is okay to open.  Best practice is to go ahead and delete the email.  If you later discover it was photos of your friend’s granddaughter, they’ll ask if you got the email and you can ask them to resend it or you can go to your deleted box and restore the message.
  • Your bank or financial institution, cable, utilities, cell phone services, etc. will never send you email requesting personal information such as your social security number, bank routing and accounting information or mother’s maiden name.  They also will never send you an email asking you for your passwords.   This sort of scam is called “Phishing” (fishing) and almost always comes, seemingly, from well-known companies without their permission.  Some identifiers are:
  • Generic greeting – using “Dear customer” instead of your name.
  • Sense of urgency – will include an urgent warning requiring your immediate attention and action.
  • Account status threat – may include a warning that your account will be shut down unless you reply.
  • Forged links to Web sites – there is often a link to a web site to “fix” your account.  These are often forged and fake.
  • Requests for personal information – asking for log-in and password information, either in the email or from the link transactions on a secure site.  Never click on a link in an email you did not request.   Always feel free to call your provider at a phone number you know to be valid and verify the email.  Otherwise, delete it.

As with any Internet or computer-based question, we invite you to visit one of our public computer labs and find out more.   Be safe!

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