Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Avoiding Spam and Scams

Stop Spam.
Because I'm an author, I probably get more email than the average person, so I see more spam too. I've learned the patterns people use and this helps me avoid it most of the time. These lines: "check this out" "look at this amazing site" "is this really you in these pictures?" "your ex is saying bad things about you here" are often scams.

When I hold a contest, I can't send the person who wins an email that says "Winner!" in the subject, because their spam service will throw it straight into the junk pile. I have to think about my posts and try to word them in such a way that they get past the junk mail and reach the person who entered.

Despite our best intentions, sometimes email goes to spam for reasons that we don't understand. I had two separate offers for book contracts end up in my spam folder. I check that folder before I dump it because of that. At least once or twice a week, something ends up in spam that shouldn't be there.

Yahoo, Rocketmail, Hotmail, MSN, and most other email services will flag an email that contains only a link as spam, so whenever you post, do include something about the site, and include your name. Spammers always go for the easiest route to produce lots of messages, so they don't bother to sign most of them.

There are exceptions of course. Have you ever gotten an email from a friend saying that she's in a foreign country, has had her purse stolen, or that she's been jailed for a crime she didn't commit and desperately needs your help to raise cash? Chances are, she's home, sitting in the living room, and is clueless that her email account has just been hacked. It can happen to anyone (and did to me last May). If you get an email like this, first, don't believe it. Second, contact your friend by a different method and alert her. Third, don't believe it. (Yes, I repeated that) ^_^

Protecting yourself online is important. Never click on a link that appears by itself, with no information about its meaning, who sent it, or what it's about. You can be setting yourself up for a scam, or to be hit by malware that downloads itself when you click the link. One of the biggest going around right now looks like it's from Amazon, and says it's a cancelation.

To tell where a link is going, point to it with your cursor, and look at the bottom of your screen. In your browser, the place where the link will take you usually shows up in the lower left margin. If the link says it's one place, but the URL shows somewhere else, don't click it. It's a scam.

Ever been scammed or had your account hacked? What did you do?


  1. Thank you for the great advice. The spam bots are getting so much more sneaky and finding way around everything.

    I've been lucky to not have been scammed or hacked..I am so careful and never click a link unless I know it is from someone I trust.

    1. Good for you, Savannah. I clicked one of those stupid Amazon things the other day without even thinking. I'd bought several books, and when it said it was about a cancelation, I bit. My antivirus blocked the malware that it tried to download. Whew! Been very careful with those since.

  2. When I first joined twitter I clicked on one of those "have you seen this picture of you" Since it was from one of my friends. An hour later everybody on my twitter feed were getting crazy messages. I changed my password, posted an apology and a warning for a couple of days. I've gotten a lot smarter since then and when one of those "I'm stuck in a foreign country and need money" popped up on a critique group. It didn't "read" like the person and deleted the email.

    I've gotten a lot smarter and when in doubt, it never hurts to ask.

    1. Oh, true! I did the same thing. My antivirus saved me from being hacked, but it scared me. I use Avast, and it's been worth its weight in gold. ;)

    2. Avast is awesome! Agreed.

  3. It sort of makes me chuckle when I get a "your Amazon order has been cancelled" sent to an email I've never had associated with my Amazon account.
    On the other hand, this is no laughing matter.

    Also, I would ad I've almost been taken in by those links that lead to things like "" Beware those too.

    1. Good point - and what about the emails that say "Dear Beloved" in the subject? Makes it sound like a funeral. Which, come to think it, might be true when it comes to your privacy if you click the links. ;) Thanks for the comments.