The word "spam" is often used to describe something that is repetitive to a point that it is bothersome. Email spam is often perpetrated by individuals who send out millions and sometimes even billions of unsolicited messages, and a person who becomes a target of these emails tends to get hundreds or thousands of these over a course of a few weeks.
But why the word "spam"? If you recall an old British comedy group called Monty Python whose shows were aired on public television decades ago, they had a memorable comedy routine where a restaurant menu consisted entirely of choices that included a canned meat product called Spam, a spiced ham concoction that was popular for breakfast in decades past.
The comedy routine featured a waiter who read items from the menu that repeated the word "Spam" increasingly as it replaced more of the items on the menu. Years later, the term was used in 1993 by a Usenet administrator to describe a mistake where a message had been duplicated 200 times by mistake. The term somehow stuck in the early days of the internet, and it now remains the word of choice for annoyingly repetitive messages and emails.
Nowadays, people throughout the world frequently attempt to deceive people and steal their valuable information through phone calls or SMS besides email fraud. The theft of confidential information is a crime, and you can protect yourself from phone scam. Here are some of the general guidelines that you can use to recognize telephone fraud and protect yourself from it. Fraud can present itself to you in multiple different ways. It can be in the form of a spam phone call or an SMS text message. Here is how you can recognize the different types of phone fraud.
The first way is in the form of a phone call. When you receive a phone call, you typically see a caller ID and the caller's number. If the call is in your phone's contact list, you will see a name, but if your phone does not recognize the number, it is possible that the caller may be a spam caller. Usually, you will see if the phone number is from your local area, but spam callers can mask their phone numbers with your local area code but call from an entirely different area. Spam callers can also mask their phone numbers with a phone number that you know, such as your friend's phone number or your own phone number. Refrain from answering these phone calls because spammers design them to deceive you into answering them and giving your information to the spammers.
Be aware of all unknown phone numbers that call you. Watch for the time that an unknown phone number calls you. If you receive an unexpected call at a suspicious time such as during the day when you are working or late in the evening, check the caller ID immediately to see if a spammer has called you. If you do answer a phone call from an unknown number, be sure to hang up if the caller asks any suspicious questions that can lead to you giving away your confidential information, such as your credit card number or your social security number.
If the caller has an unfamiliar accent or is a robocaller, hang up right away since the caller is likely to be a spammer. A robocaller may ask you to press a certain button if you want to prevent the caller from contacting you in the future. Hang up instead of pressing the button since spammers can use this practice to identify future candidates to spam. If the caller claims to be part of a major organization or agency, verify the number by searching it and proving that the number belongs to the organization. Under normal circumstances, if you have an account with an organization, associates of the organization will notify you if they are going to call you in the future either by mail or by email.
Text messages, as a common source of communication between two or more parties, are another source of communication for spammers. Spammers frequently send text messages about unopened rewards, gift cards with companies that you may or may not shop at, free prizes for completing a survey and potentially harmful links. Unless you are expecting to receive a confirmation message about a product that you recently ordered, avoid messages pertaining to product orders at all costs. These messages typically have links in them that can put malware, such as viruses, on your phone. The links, if clicked on, can scan your phone for valuable information, such as passwords, emails and banking information, and send the information back to the spammer.
If the text message has numerous grammar and punctuation issues, a spammer likely sent it to collect your confidential information. Many times, spammers send personalized SMS text messages with your name. Be wary of these messages and report them to an authoritative figure. The phone numbers of spammers usually contain 9-11 digits with or without parentheses. The parentheses will be present if the phone number is exactly 10 digits longs. When an organization or an agency send you a message, it will likely only have five or digits without parentheses, and its content will have a code of verification or status message. Spam text messages often do not have message headings such as what company sent it or what the message's purpose is.
Likewise with phone calls, if you are not expecting an SMS text message from one of your contacts or an organization with which you are associated, avoid checking the text message since it is likely spam. Sometimes, spammers use trackers on text messages to determine if their target has opened their messages or not. The trackers help spammers determine who is active, and the spammers may consequently continue sending text messages to the active users. You can prevent this by blocking the number that continually sends the spam text messages to you and report them using your text messaging application.
Spam phone calls and SMS text messages are prevalent throughout the world, but there are some steps that you can take to protect yourself from deceit:
Sometimes spam is just for promotional purposes, and the sender is merely trying to generate more customers for his or her business, but there are many cases where the intentions are more malicious. Sometimes the emails can contain malware that infect your computer in order to steal your personal information or damage your company's network or destroy your data.
Spam can also be designed to commit fraud in order to swindle you out of your money. Another problem is that spam can clutter your inbox so that it's difficult to find emails that are important or from people you care about. Sifting through a lot of email can be very time-consuming and detrimental to your productivity at work.
The first line of defense is to set up your email filter properly so that you will not get inundated with large amounts of spam. Most email services today are set up to filter spam by default, and they have knowledge of previously identified perpetrators of fraud. Even in this case, you will need to take steps yourself to manually reduce the amount of spam you get. In most cases, if you don't know who the sender is, you should mark that message as spam so that it will not end up in your inbox again.
Also, it's very important to be suspicious of any hyperlink in an email, even if it seems to be from a very familiar or trusted source.
The best practice is to manually enter the URL of the website rather than clicking a link that claims to take you to a known website. If an email has an attachment, take greater precautions. If you don't recognize the sender, never open the attached file because these often contain malware. Under no circumstances should you open a file with extension ".exe" because it is certain to be a virus.
If an offer seems too good to be true, you should assume that it is a scam. Any message that describes large sums of money or offers of women who are desperate to fulfill your romantic fantasies is certainly fraud. Any offers that promise to enhance your masculinity or increase your income by a factor of ten is also in that same category.
Some other precautions to prevent harm from spam emails is to make sure you have an antiviral program that is rated very highly and it is updated on a daily basis or even more frequently. It's also important to make sure your firewall is configured so that programs will not install without your permission and knowledge. Your security system should be able to block threats as soon as they start to install on your computer or even block your connection to known malicious web URLs. If you're sending personal or sensitive information via email, it is best practice these days to use an encryption protocol to prevent third parties from gaining access to this data.
By following some common sense and using a few well-known rules of thumb, you should be able to avoid becoming a victim of malicious schemes. It's also important to have a good strategy to filter your email or organize messages so that you can easily find communications related to your work and from people with whom you have a relationship.
There are several types of email scams that every person nowadays should understand and avoid. One of them is "phishing" email. This is a scam email that masquerades as a government agency or major retailer with whom you're likely to have a relationship. In a phishing scheme, the email will include a link that will take you to a site where you will be asked to enter personal information or even banking credentials that will give them access to your funds.
Phone calls and text messages are some of the common ways that spammers will try to deceive you and steal your confidential information, but you can avoid phone fraud by being wise and understanding the type of call or SMS text message that you receive from a phone number. If you know the phone number and caller, proceed as you normally do. If the phone number claims to be one that you know but is not, verify your suspicions with research and remove contact with that number if necessary.