This post is not about online optical retailers. They are, for the most part, honest entrepreneurs using the internet to sell their wares as many of us use our store windows. We can debate their value to the industry in some later discussion. Today I am writing mostly about email scams.
We have seen a large increase in scam emails over the past month and there is little reason to believe they are going away any time soon. As we move further and further into a digital world, there will be those who will use their computers to lie, steal, and cheat us on an ever increasing basis. Perhaps you have read recently of hacks into celebrity email and bank accounts, or of the attempts to try and affect the Florida voting results. These sorts of things are almost becoming commonplace and we as entrepreneurs without staffs of IT people to help, need to do our best to guard against them.
So, what should you be on the lookout for?
Banks and delivery services do not send zip files to tell you of deposits, bills, or delivery issues. They all keep their data behind Secure Socket Layers on their websites and require you to log into to those sites to rectify issues. Do not open any zip files from people you are not expecting zip files from. Most of us have the courtesy of telling someone we are sending X, Y, or Z via a zip file if that is needed, which in the days of cloud storage are becoming less and less.
By that same token, scam emails, especially those that portend to be offering you money will ask you to click on a link to their website. First and foremost, check the link you are being asked to visit. When you mouse over and link, the actual URL will show in the lower left corner of your email client. Does it match where you are supposedly being asked to go? services.paypal.iwanttoscamu.com is not the same as paypal.com. Just because it has Paypal or Citigroup in the name doesn’t make it legit. Keep in mind as well that real businesses do not use URL shortners such as web.ly or goo.gl.
Legitimate emails, especially about YOUR money or your account are not sent to numerous recipients. Those are personal and individual. Email servers can send out thousands of emails a seconds. There is no reason to have tons of recipients on individual emails. Another great tell is when all the recipients are email addresses very close to yours. This is a case of fishing…just coming up with random email addresses and see who might bite.
SPELLING & GRAMMAR
Now, I couldn’t live without a spell checker…and even then make too many mistakes. However, an easy tell in a scam email is how sentences are structured and the email is spell checked. People for whom English is a second language make a lot of mistakes and when you take more than a second to read the email you will easily discover those mistakes.
PERSONAL IMFORMATION REQUESTS
Should an email ask you to re-enter credit information….run…not towards the email, but away. If you wonder whether the request is legitimate, go directly to the company website, not via the link, and see if by logging in you are asked to enter that information. More often than not, these sorts of requests are again trying to steal from you.
USE ANTI-VIRUS AND ANTI-SPAM SOFTWARE
You would never suggest your patients squint directly into the sun without proper eye wear if ever at all. Why would you compute without the same level of protection?