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Avoid Scams - email and spam

Let's start with the basics, because this is a problem that we all suffer from in one form or another. So what is spam? Spam is unwanted emails that we receive and contact from people that we don't know. What it isn't is newsletters that we've subscribed to, or agreed to receive, and we no longer want.

These two types of emails should be dealt with differently, and there is a new type of spam that I'll discuss afterwards.

If your unwanted newsletter is one that you have subscribed to, and it's legitimate, there should be an " unsubscribe" link either at the top of the email or ( partly hidden in small print sometimes) at the very bottom along with the address details of the sender. This is a legal requirement and legitimate newsletters must include these as a requirement of the "Anti-Spam" laws. It should be a fairly straightforward procedure to click on the link and be taken to an unsubscribe page where it will be confirmed. Sometimes there is a checklist asking why you want to unsubscribe. Choose the one that matches your reason or ignore, it's not critical, and submit.

If you do not remember, or are certain that you did not subscribe to the newsletter or email, then DO NOT click the unsubscribe link. There is a good chance that the sender has " gleaned" your email through someone else's list and by clicking on unsubscribe you are confirming your email exists, and is "live", maybe adding you to another spam email newsletter list.

In this scenario you should label the email as spam, or junk. This will direct all following emails from the same email address to the spam or junk folder without notifying the sender. Some programs give you the option to " unsubscribe and mark as spam" . Avoid this and just label as spam.

One of the main reasons that I recommend my clients to use a Gmail account is that so far, Gmail has the most efficient anti-spam filters and prevents most of the suspicious email reaching your inbox. These emails are directed immediately into your spam folder. This folder should be checked occasionally to see if any legitimate email that you want, has accidentally be directed there. All junk and spam mail is stored for 30 days and then automatically deleted. It's quite simple to reinstate an accidentally junked email to the inbox.

It's important to note that Junk and Spam Folders are not the same. Junked mail will be deleted once, whereas mail sent to the Spam Folder will include all future mail from the same email address being sent directly to the Spam Folder.

How to identify a fake email. In some cases you will receive an email that doesn't " feel quite right". A request regarding a bank account, or Google alert that requires you to add your password somewhere. A quick way to check if it's genuine is to look at the top of the email and you'll see a blue word " details". if you click on this it shows the real email of the sender. You can also try clicking on the email address itself which sometimes reveals a totally different email address. Move it to Spam, don't unsubscribe.

Any email that asks you, or links to a page that requires you to add your password is suspect. If it's from your bank, don't use the link in the email, use the link you always use to see if it's really needed.

Two examples of Spam and Scam that I received recently.

I received a very convincing alert from Gmail warning me that someone had logged into my Gmail using my password, which they had blocked,and I should change my password. I followed their link and saw a very convincing Gmail page. When I checked under my picture to see my email login, I saw a totally strange email and an alternative email. This was NOT my usual Gmail page. I closed the page and used my usual browser to log in and the address was not there. The Gmail account page that the email linked to was fake ! I sent the email to spam .

As some of you may know, I use Google Calendar to schedule my meetings, birthday reminders and events. A few weeks ago I was surprised to see an unusual event marked on Thursday afternoon. It was not the usual solid colour, but white with a red border. When I opened it I saw a very nice letter from a Nigerian princess offering me a few million dollars! As I don't need any more dollars, and am not acquainted with any Nigerian princesses, I ignored the message. I DIDN'T delete it. It was added by someone adding me to their appointment schedule. Had I deleted it they would have been notified and my email address confirmed. So It stays there, for eternity as far as I'm concerned.

Spammers and Scammers are getting very sophisticated these days and we have to be on our guard to avoid falling for their tricks. You can help by being vigilant. If you are sending an email to many people, always using the BCC space for additional email addresses, not the "to" or "cc".Avoid subscribing to mailing lists that you don't really need and websites that request your details in return for a discount in the future.

Be careful, enjoy your tech and feel free to contact me with any questions you may have regarding smartphones and computers.

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