Stay Calm. Don’t Click.

We all like to think we’re pretty smart. But, the truth is half of us are dumber than average. The rest of us get busy, distracted or drunk and can fall prey to tricks. Todd’s here to give you a pointer.
After so many years of hearing about internet scams and identity theft, I thought everyone would be on to them and that the bad guys would have been forced to give up by now.  Guess what?  They haven’t.  They’re still trying, and they could be trying to panic you next.

Last week one of my co-workers admitted that she almost lost a lot of money.  She received an email from “her bank” that claimed she needed to log in and check on her account, or else the bank was going to have to suspend her account.  She clicked the link in her email, logged in to her bank account, and found that nothing was amiss.  Then she had one of those “OH NO, WHAT HAVE I DONE” moments and she immediately called her bank.  The bank representative informed her that yes, someone else was already logged into her account right then, and they were in the middle of transferring all of her money to another account.  Thankfully she acted quickly enough and she didn’t lose any money.
“I don’t understand,” I said after she told her story, “why on earth did you believe that email?  Why did you click the link?”
“I was busy.”
“That’s it?”
“Yes, that’s it.  I had lots of email to get through and I thought if I just got this bank thing handled, that would be one task done and I could move on.”
She looked at me with a face full of shame and regret. I didn’t push the issue; it looked like she already had a lesson she wasn’t going to soon forget.
Then just today I got a frantic phone call from my daughter’s piano teacher:
“MY EMAIL IS ABOUT TO BE SHUT DOWN!!!!”
“No, it isn’t.”
“What? What do you mean?  I just got an email from the telephone company, and they said that I need to log in right now or my account will be shut down!”
“No, you didn’t.”
“I… what?  I didn’t?”
“Oh you got an email sure enough, but it wasn’t from the phone company.  Delete it now.”
“How can you be so sure?  Do you want me to send you a copy?”
“No, just delete it. It is a scam.  They are trying to steal your email account from you, and from there they would get access to your bank account and take all your money.  So trust me on this and just delete it.”
“Oh. OK, thanks.  Will do.”
Another disaster averted.
So here we have it – here is the number one way to tell that the email you are reading is a scam: it contains a threat.
Your bank, telephone company or cable company may be crooks in some way by overcharging you for service, but they won’t send you threats in your email.  They will never send you a message in the form of “you better click this link right now or we will shut off your service”.  So the next time that you receive an email that causes a bit of panic, try to remain calm – and don’t click the link. 
If that company is truly after you, they have your number.  Trust me, they would call.
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  • reply Milo ,

    I got one from the “FBI” one time that I printed out and passed around at work. It was a hoot, especially the inconsistent terms for USD and the spelling mistakes. They tried to panic me by saying I was being investigated for money laundering.

    • reply Todd Trann ,

      How much money did you launder, exactly? ;)

      • reply Milo ,

        They were apparently uncertain. it went from 1,000,000.00 USD to 100,000 US Dollars to 10,000,000 USD Dollars.

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