What do your email habits say about you? We often take it for granted that our emails stay private and secure, but the truth is that bad email habits can expose you to a variety of threats. Careless emailing can result in phishing scams, computer viruses or even identity theft and financial fraud.
Is your email placing you at risk? Yahoo! Finance compiled a list of the worst consumer email activities you should never do. Check out our list of the 9 bad email habits that expose you to scams and identity theft, and out if you’re doing any of them!
1. Checking Your Email on a Unsafe WiFi Network
Any public cafes, libraries, or airports with public WiFi networks are vulnerable to hackers, even if it’s password protected. You never know how many cyber scammers might be connecting to the same network.
Only check your email on safe, secure networks you can trust.
If you really need to check your email and you can’t wait until you get back to your home or the office, make sure you’ve got up-to-date antivirus software and a firewall installed on your computer.
2. Staying Signed into Your Email Account
It’s a drag to log in every time you need to check your email, especially if you often use email on an iPhone or other mobile device, but staying automatically signed in leaves your personal information vulnerable to hackers. Sign out whenever possible to better protect yourself.
3. Repeat Your Email Login and Password on Other Sites
Fact: Sites from Facebook to LivingSocial have been hacked before, exposing user data to identity theft and other privacy problems. That’s why it’s very important that you don’t repeat your email username and email password on other sites. If you do, a hacker could use the information stolen from these sites to compromise your email account.
Always stay away from repeating the same username and password across your accounts. Want to know how to create a super-secure, but easy to remember password? Check out our Scambook TV video for a quick tip!
4. Keeping Old Emails Instead of Trashing Them
With providers like Gmail offering up gigabits of free space, most of us don’t delete old emails. But it’s a smart idea to change this habit. According to Yahoo! Finance, here’s why:
“Those messages may contain addresses, account usernames and passwords, contact information for all your friends, financial data and a host of other sensitive information.”
Send them to the trash or delete folder, then empty it on a regular basis.
5. Falling for Spam Credit Card Offers or Guaranteed Loans
To start, no trustworthy creditor will offer you a credit deal without checking your credit scores first, and you should always be suspicious about unsolicited emails.
Those low interest rate credit card offer emails and “guaranteed loans” are just scammers trying to steal your information. Send these emails to the trash or mark them as spam.
6. Replying When Old Friends Suddenly Email You for Help
That email from a long lost friend who’s stuck in China and desperate for cash? Trash it. This is a common email scam. Hackers take control of someone’s email account, then use it to email everyone on the victim’s contact list with a fake story about needing money abroad.
If you think your friend might really be stuck in a bad financial situation overseas, ask them a question only they could know the answer to, reach out to them via Facebook or a different email, or contact a mutual friend to verify the story.
If they want you to wire money via Western Union — especially if they want you to wire the money to a different name — it’s definitely a scam.
7. Verifying Private Personal Info Through Email
An email from a bank, a service like FedEx, or the IRS asking for your personal information is most likely a phishing scam. These institutions don’t ask for personal information via unsolicited email. Delete the email and alert the company’s fraud department about the suspicious email.
8. Getting Tricked into Believing Your Credit Card Was Stolen
If you receive an email that says “Thank you for your recent order!”, but you never ordered anything, DO NOT try to cancel the order within the email. This is a common identity theft scheme.
If you’re really worried that you may be a victim of fraud, remember to check your credit report for free at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
9. Falling For Amazing Travel Deal Emails
Travel is expensive for a reason and no company can book you a weekend in Waikiki for less than a hundred bucks. Is the deal too good to be true? Send it to the trash. The deal is a scam and the email may steal your personal information or download a virus onto your computer. If you’re really curious, search for the deal or the company on sites like Scambook to find out if it’s legitimate.
What Do You Think?
Do you have any email horror stories? Have long lost friends contacted you by email about their penniless situation in China? What are your tips to increase your email security? Let us know in the comments.
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