If you haven’t figured out how you’re going to show mom how much you care, it’s not too late. Emails from brands you trust and the Web can help you shop, ship and rest easy knowing that your gift will arrive on time – all without having to leave your computer.
But Mother’s Day is also a great time for cybercriminals to use your email inbox to conduct phishing scams, deplete your bank account and harvest malware on your computer.
How can you avoid becoming easy prey for scammers who can wreak havoc on your computer, personal information, identity and finances? Remembering what you learned from mom, consider the following security tips to help you stay clear of email scams this Mother’s Day.
Not every email deal is sweet. If you want to buy your mom a dozen roses without any surprises, be wary of suspicious email coupons with deals that seem too good to be true. You can avoid the spread of malware from these links by only clicking on coupons from senders that you recognize and knowingly subscribe to. And, if you must, you can find out whether or not a site is legitimate by performing a simple Google search first.
Chummy emails from strangers are not always so friendly. Besides the unwanted spam that pops up in your inbox from time to time, most of your emails will be from people or companies that you know. At the same time, cybercriminals are out there scouring the web, using malicious bots to carry out their plans by identifying your email and other personal information. After you open what seems to be a valid email, addressing you by name, you click on a link to what is portrayed as a fabulous product that is sure to be a hit with mom. In the end, all that happens is that you are stuck downloading malware onto your computer.
Tell mom to watch out for questionable looking E-cards. Unfortunately, what used to be just a common way to send well-wishes can also now be a way for cybercriminals to attack your computer. So, let mom know to proceed with caution when it comes to those cute E-Cards. It’s better to hit the delete button first and ask questions later if the sender has an email address that she does not know or recognize.
Laugh-off Gag gift phishing scams. Attackers are hip to the fact that Gag gifts for mom are popular for Mother’s Day and all year-round. They have been known to use them as a hook for phishing scams. Emails from scammers that point you to these types of gifts may lead you to fraudulent websites. With the goal of getting you to enter your credit card or bank account number, these sites are designed to steal your identity and your money. So, if you must buy your mom a funny gift, make sure you purchase it from a site that you already know and trust.
Verify unfamiliar email links. Scammers can send you malicious links in an email, which can sometimes look legitimate and seem to be coming from reputable companies – but sometimes they are not. If the email itself looks suspicious, it is best to delete it. One way to determine if a link is safe is by using browser extensions, such as www.mywot.com, which uses a community-based rating system to clue you in on a website’s reputation. If you do download this extension, links in your emails will also include the red, yellow, orange, green or grey colored traffic light symbol beside them to show you which sites people trust for safe searching, surfing and shopping online. Most browsers will also pop up with a warning if you try to navigate to an unsafe site.
It’s a good idea to be on the lookout for all sorts of email and online scams during the days leading up to Mother’s Day. But that doesn’t mean that you should let the many valid deals and gift ideas for mom pass you by. Just be aware of email promises that seem too good to be true and limit your shopping experience to reputable online retailers. Finally, if you are in doubt about a site, be sure to do your homework. And this Mother’s Day is sure to be a special one for both you and mom.