Emails promising you all manner of riches in exchange for your bank details are the bane of every internet user's existence. But there are ways you can protect yourself from scam emails and avoid having to worry about con-artists emptying your bank account.
1) Don't be so quick to follow email links
Many of these scammers try and entrap you by sending a link to your email which, if you click on it, could end up allowing the scammer to access your computer, locking it and preventing you from using it.
2) Look at the language used
One of the biggest tells of a fraudulent email is the spelling, grammar and punctuation used. It will often be atrocious, with little effort put into it, as though someone rushed to send it out without a proper spell-check.
3) Trust your instincts
Some scammers will contact you out of the blue, under the pretence that you have used their website or software before and this is a routine update. But if you have never heard of them and you can't even remember registering an account with them, do not share your personal details or click on any links.
4) Contact the sender
In many cases, scammers will try and pass themselves off as a person or business that you already know or are associated with, requesting information. An easy way around this would be to contact either the individual or company directly and ask them if they have sent you the email.
5) Regularly back up your software
Given the Trojan programmes these people try to use, it would be wise to conduct frequent anti-virus checks on your computer from a respectable company. If need be, ask friends and family about the anti-virus software they use.
6) Don't send any financial information
It goes without saying, but if you get an email requesting your bank details, and it's particularly vague about what this information will be used for, don't hand anything over. If you do give scammers your bank details, they can use this to take regular payments until your account is bled dry.
7) Look the company up
If you get a suspicious-looking email, do your own research and look up the company's website online. One thing that will help is if you look for any online testimonials verifying the (lack of) integrity of these sites.
8) Opt for two-step verification
Many (respectable) email providers often make use of two-step verification. In addition to your password, providers will ask for a second piece of identifying information, such as your phone number. Always make use of two-step verification as it will make it harder for scammers to infiltrate your account.
9) Install anti-phishing software on your computer
Scam emails also go by the name of 'phishing'. You should consider installing anti-phishing software that will severely limit the number of scam emails that make it to your inbox.
10) Be social engineering savvy
Some hackers are versed in social engineering, in which they will dress up scams using brands you are familiar with and trust. But if you understand what social engineering is and how it works, you'll be able to spot scam emails before any damage is done.
11) Maintain complicated passwords
It's often easier to have one password for multiple accounts, but scammers will have a harder time stealing your information if you use different and overly complicated passwords which are made up of a combination of letters, numbers and special characters.