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Sunday, 6 October 2013
How to identify bank scam emails
THE menace of scam emails is not new. Almost everyone who owns an email address has seen one. Since the advent of the Internet across the world, and in Nigeria in the 90s, email scams have been existent and not a few have fallen victim. Since then, scam alerts became a regular notice at cyber cafés. A number of experienced Internet users and those who heard victims’ tales of how they got hooked have wised up.
However, the nature of scam emails has evolved. It is no longer a tale of a friend stranded overseas needing financial aid, or that of a pathetic story of a young, female refugee in some African country seeking a compassionate, trusting partner through whom she can transfer millions of dollars out of her home country. There seems to be a resurgence of scam emails, especially with the push by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) to promote cash-less in Nigeria, hence the use of alternate banking channels and methods of funds transfer which includes the use of Internet Banking. Therefore, scammers have begun to send out scam emails that centre on this subject.
The emails are framed to come from your bank requesting that you perform some form of account upgrade or forfeit the services or face some kind of consequence. To avoid anyone pulling the wool over your eyes, here are a few pointers to identifying a scam email.
1. An email from a financial institution you do not deal with: Some of these scammers simply send out bulk emails from a popular bank hoping that the recipient would be one of the bank’s customers. If you are not a customer, ignore the message.
2. Get familiar with your bank’s website. These scammers open email addresses and put First Bank, United Bank for Africa, GT Bank or some other as the sender. Simply check the actual address of the sender by placing your mouse over the name. The full address will appear. If the name that comes after the “@” symbol is not the same as your bank’s website, ignore it.
3. Always find out from the physical branch of your bank if any upgrades are taking place online, and report any such email you receive. Other ways of spotting scam emails are:
1. Watch for typos or spelling mistakes Scam artists are street smart, but many flunked basic grammar (or barely speak English). Look for mistakes like inappropriate hyphens or confusing “your” and “you’re.” If the note has multiple typographical mistakes or grammatical errors, odds are it’s not legitimate
2. Requests for personal information No legitimate organization will ask for your social security, bank account or PIN number via e-mail – and none will include a link, sending you to a form to enter it. No matter how authentic these emails may look, ignore them.
3. Clickable web links in e-mails This is a very common feature of current scam mails. Don’t trust links to Web sites in e-mails. What might look like a legitimate address is often linked to a third-party site that looks official, but is actually run by thieves and scammers. These are the fast track to identity and financial theft.
4. Attachments in e-mails from persons you don’t know It should be common sense, but just in case, we’ll remind you again: Don’t open an attachment from someone you don’t know – even if it appears to be your bank or credit card company. It’s almost always a virus or spyware meant to steal your personal information.
5. Warning phrases If you see the phrases “verify your account,” “you have won the lottery” or “if you don’t respond within XX hours or days, your account will be closed,” it’s a scam – every time. Hit the delete button straight away.
6. Generic greetings While you can’t trust every e-mail that knows your name, you can definitely ignore the ones that start “Dear member” or “Hello friend.” If your bank or credit card company is writing you, it knows who you are. So do your friends.