June 16, 2021 · Credit, Investment, Savings, Security
For many people there is a daily dependence on their work or personal cellphone and computer for the tasks they need or want to accomplish online. Our digital devices offer a good variety of communications options—the standard video, email, text, as well as newer, innovative applications that blend text, video, and audio functions. Along with a variety of communications options, there are plenty of unwanted messages that come into inboxes and text apps that seem to be unending—spam. Spam emails and texts are a regular and annoying disadvantage of our reliance on the 21st century digital technology that is present in all parts of our lives.
This spam is usually safe, as it’s standard marketing communications attempting to interest mostly disinterested recipients in purchasing a product or service; these messages are generally innocent and easily ignored and deleted. If we've configured email filters on our accounts a lot spam is automatically screened out. But…not all spam is safe; phishing emails and texts will try to cleverly trick people into giving up account credentials or downloading malware to harm our computers, our phones, and our lives.
If a spam email or text makes it through to your device, do not click “unsubscribe” in the message options, just delete it quickly and tag it as spam or block the sender.
By clicking the unsubscribe link you are doing exactly what the spammer wants—you are showing your account is valid, that it’s active, that you are giving them attention, and that they were able to convince you to click on what is potentially a dangerous link. That link could connect you to a fake site attempting to steal your account details or to stealth malware, such as a virus or trojan program, that will install itself your device without your knowledge. Clicking the link identifies a more attractive target for the spammer.
The U.S. government agency the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is tasked with protecting American consumers from a mind-boggling long list of types of scams and fraud activities, including regular spam and dangerous phishing emails. The FTC has pages of great, practical advice on dealing with spam. Here’s some of what it recommends:
What else can be done in the relentless fight against endless spam? If you get it, report it.
The FTC recommends that you share spam and phishing messages with both your email provider and the sender's email provider—if you can identify them from the message distribution details. Include the full message and state clearly that the message wasn’t approved to come to you and is spam.