Business

Most companies won’t send an email out of the blue. But scammers will. Beware of phishing

Q: I received an email out of the blue asking me to sign into my Amazon account because there was a problem with my card. I haven’t ordered anything on Amazon in a while, but could they just be doing a checkup on active accounts? Or is this a scam?

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A: This is most definitely a phishing email scam! I hope you did NOT click on any links in the email.

Scammers love to send out phishing emails (which is an email designed to look legitimate, but it’s not) to get money and other personal information. While they send these throughout the year, they really ramp it up during the holiday shopping season.

Here is what is on Amazon’s website regarding emails:

“Amazon will never send you an unsolicited e-mail that asks you to provide sensitive personal information like your social security number, tax ID, bank account number, credit card information, ID questions like your mother's maiden name or your password. If you receive a suspicious e-mail please report it immediately.”

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to a phishing email scam.

Be cautious of generic emails – Scammers try to cast a wide net by including little or no specific information in their fake emails. Always be wary of unsolicited messages that don't contain your name, last digits of your account number or other personalizing information.

Call the company – If you receive an email out of the blue asking for any personal information, call the company directly and ask them if they need this information, and why.

They will most likely tell you that they would never ask for personal information over email, especially without contacting you first.

Don’t click on links – It’s best to not click on links, download information, or open any files that come out of the blue, or from an anonymous sender.

Links can download malware onto your computer, compromise personal information and in case of ransomware, render your computer useless in hopes that you will pay money to have it released

Protect your information – Never share your personal information with someone who has contacted you unsolicited.

Personal information can include your date of birth, credit card or banking information, address or your Social Security number.

If you receive an email with a link, hover your mouse over the link without click to see if the address is really taking you to wear it says it is.

Also, check the reply email address. The address should be on a company domain.

If you do receive a phishing email in the future, report it to BBB Scam Tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker to help warn others.

Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems toAction Line at the BetterBusiness Bureau, 2600 W. Shaw Lane, Fresno, CA 93711 or info@cencal.bbb.org.

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