February 21, 2024 · Credit, Investment, Savings, Security

9 Steps That Might Help Avoid Email Scams

Email scams are a constant annoyance for many people, either filling up spam folders, or sometimes sneakily evading filters and ending up in our inbox—where we are then told in an unwanted message that we have won a prize, a deep discount, someone owes us money, we owe someone money, there is an amazing work from home job offer for us, or some other lie being used to phish consumers, take their money or hack their financial, email, or social media accounts.

Nothing can prevent being targeted by an email scammer, but there are some steps to take that may possibly help avoid becoming a fraud victim. Here are nine suggestions for actions to take that could assist in stopping or preventing a successful email attack:

  1. Don’t click any links without checking them first. Hover your cursor over a link to see the entire email address. If it appears normal, authentic and includes the name of the company—it is likely a corporate email address. It also is worth looking up the website address of the company to see if any listed email addresses are similar. If your cursor hovers over what looks like a business email address but instead it reveals an embedded personal email address (one that doesn’t include the name of the sending company, that’s big red flag of warning—personal email addresses are not used for company communications.
  2. Check the message details for more warning signs that an email is not authentic. Before sending a message out to sometimes hundreds or thousands of people, mass email messages are thoroughly reviewed and checked for spelling. Are there spelling or grammatical errors in the message? Is the email design sloppy or is it copying the design of a well-known company? Is the message written as if the writer is not fluent in English?
  3. Slow down, don’t do anything quickly, and ask yourself if this situation is realistic. Scammers rely on false emergency and urgency to create panic that something bad is happening—or will happen very soon—unless they have access to your accounts or you send them money. Be cautious of any email (or text, or caller) telling you to act immediately. Take the time to consider the message, then consider again and ask yourself whether the situation is likely to be real or fake. Large companies and government agencies generally (but not always) have detailed, multi-step processes to be both careful and thorough—but they are also usually not fast and probably don’t require an immediate response. As an example, the United States government conducts much of its official business with citizens through the slower U.S. mail service, not emails, texts or calls.
  4. Get the opinion of someone you trust before replying or taking any other actions. Not certain if you’re facing a scam? Get the opinion of someone else who can offer a more objective perspective. Ask someone you consider to be very savvy and trustworthy, whether they are a family member, friend, colleague or neighbor.
  5. For any offer of an incredible deal, refund, reward, contest win (such as a lottery or raffle prize) or lawsuit settlement—if it seems too good to be true then it is almost certainly a scam. Scammers lie and offer fake goods, services, money or other rewards with hard to resist offers of great deals. They will entice victims via email or social media with unbelievably steep discounts for expensive items—goods that a buyer will never receive after they’ve lost their money to a sly fraudster.
  6. Quickly delete the message and block the email. Don’t risk opening the email again or letting the fraudulent sender get into to your inbox a second time and have another opportunity to threaten the security of your accounts and computer, mobile phone or tablet.
  7. Don’t send anyone a payment in cash, gift cards or cryptocurrency. These most often are not standard, acceptable payment forms for most legitimate, legal businesses.
  8. Consider investing in an identity monitoring plan to help keep your personal and credit information safe. Members Insurance Advisors, a wholly owned subsidiary of Delta Community Credit Union, now offers members identity protection plans from PrivacyGuard1. All PrivacyGuard plans offer comprehensive tools such as credit monitoring2, dark and public web monitoring of your personal information, activity alerts and access to fraud resolution experts.
  9. If you see a suspected scam; report a scam. Collect and report the details (dates and times of contact, emails, phone numbers and phone records, website addresses, text messages, names of contacts or companies that were used), to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at 1-877-FTC-HELP, 1-877-ID-THEFT, or online at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. The FTC also has a site that can help potential or actual scam victims, Money Matters. It also has a video on Why Report Fraud to learn how your report can help stop scammers.

Whenever you encounter a message from someone you don’t know, be careful, don’t rush into any action (other than deleting the message and permanently blocking the sender), and, if the email still interests you and you think there are reasons why it might be genuine, do some online research, get a second or third opinion from people you trust before responding in any way. Scammers are experienced, talented and successful because they are able to convince victims that to believe who they say they are. These fraudsters can supply potential victims with cunningly crafted fake phone numbers, email addresses, names, titles and websites to convince unsuspecting consumers that they represent a lawful company, organization or government.

Contact Delta Community if you’re ever worried about the security of your accounts

  • If you think your Delta Community accounts have been compromised, immediately contact our Member Care Center via our toll-free number at 800-544-3328 with whatever details you have on the suspected account breach, including dates, amounts of money, email messages, email addresses, text messages, phone numbers and names.
  • Please remember that Delta Community will never email, call or text you to ask for your Checking, Savings, Investment, ATM, Debit or Credit Card account number or password, your telephone access (IVR) PIN, one-time passcode or other confidential personal information.

Interested in staying safer online and learning more about protecting your money?

More information on protecting yourself and your accounts—along with practical financial advice—is available from free Delta Community Financial Education Center webinars on many different money-related topics. You can visit the Financial Education Center's Events & Seminars page to register for its no-cost, on-demand webinars.

Delta Community’s blog and its security and privacy center regularly have recommendations for enhancing online personal security:

1The benefits in PrivacyGuard are provided by Trilegiant Corporation.

2 View important product benefit information and restrictions.