Safeguard your email

Email is often used to transmit malware and commit fraud. It is important to develop good email habits to help protect your computer and your identity.

In addition to viruses and worms that can be transmitted via email, there’s also the threat of phishing. Phishing is a type of email fraud that occurs when a perpetrator, posing as a legitimate, trustworthy business, attempts to acquire sensitive information like passwords or financial information.

To safeguard your email:

  • Never open or respond to SPAM (unsolicited bulk email messages). Delete all SPAM without opening it. Responding to SPAM only confirms your email address to the spammer, which can make the problem worse.
  • Never click on links within an email. It's safer to retype the Web address than to click on it from within the body of an email.
  • Don't open attachments from strangers. If you do not know the sender or are not expecting the attachment, delete it.
  • Don't open attachments with odd filename extensions. Most computer files use filename extensions such as ".doc" for documents or ".jpg" for images. If a file has a double extension, e.g., "heythere.doc.pif," it is highly likely that this is a dangerous file and should never be opened. In addition, do not open email attachments that have file endings of .exe, .pif, or .vbs. These are filename extensions for executable files and could be dangerous if opened.
  • Never give out your email address or personal information to a website you don’t know and trust. If you don't know the reputation of a website, don't assume you can trust it. Many websites sell email addresses or may be careless with your personal information. Be wary of providing any information that can be used by others for fraudulent purposes.
  • Never provide sensitive information in email. A forged email purporting to be from your financial institution or favorite online store is a popular trick used by criminals to extract personal information for fraud.
  • Don't give in to a false sense of urgency. Many fraudulent emails send out urgent messages that claim your account will be closed if you don’t immediately provide sensitive information, or update important information online. A legitimate financial institution would never alert you of an account problem this way.
  • Keep an eye out for poor design, and/or bad grammar and spelling. Tell-tale signs of a fraudulent email are typos and grammar errors, and an unprofessional design layout and quality. Delete them immediately.
  • Back it all up. Consider backing up all your sensitive files. This will help you restore damaged or corrupted data, and will help protect against fraud attacks and allow you to recover lost files if necessary.