Cybercriminals use email fraud (sometimes called “phishing”) to steal your personal data or information such as credit card numbers, passwords, account data, or other information.
Cybercriminals might send millions of fraudulent email messages with links to fraudulent websites that appear to come from websites you trust, like your bank or credit card company, and request that you provide personal information. Criminals can use this information for many different types of fraud, such as to steal money from your account, to open new accounts in your name, or to obtain official documents using your identity.
Here are 5 ways to help avoid email fraud:
- Never click links or open attachments in emails from your bank or other financial institution. Use your browser bookmarks to access your financial websites or type the URL directly into your browser. Learn more about how to recognize scams.
- Use strong passwords. If you use a strong password in your email account your account is less likely to be hacked. Learn how to create strong passwords.
- Use email software with built-in spam filtering. SmartScreen filter helps reduce both unwanted and possibly dangerous email. It’s built into Microsoft email programs and is turned on by default. Read more about how SmartScreen works in Hotmail, Outlook 2010, and Outlook 2007.
- Add people you know to your safe sender list and unwanted senders to your blocked list. This helps you get the mail that you want and not the mail that you don’t.
- Look for signs that your information is safe. Phishing emails often try to lead you to malicious websites. Before you enter sensitive information on any site, ensure that the site uses encryption, a security measure that helps protect your data as it travels over the Internet. One sign of a secure site is an address that starts with https. Learn more about how to make safer web transactions.
For more information, see Phishing: frequently asked questions.