Life has vastly improved through technology and will continue to do so in the future.
We can instantly share our life with family a thousand miles away. Or become an armchair coach and biggest fan of our favourite sports team from pretty much anywhere.
But as with all good things, criminals have twisted technology and use it in their schemes, technology allows them to exploit an opportunity for their own benefit. Just as you can use technology remotely, the scammer can also use technology to commit their crime from hundreds or thousands or miles away and never have to look in the eye of their victim.
Simple and free - use the following guideline to protect yourself from email scams.
Here is our #1 advice of avoiding falling victim to an email scam - the same scam avoidance strategy can apply to phone calls.
Email and general scams work because they target something every human has, our emotions.
Anger, shame, fear, greed - scam emails are crafted to trigger an emotional response from us. The more primal the better because that kicks you into action without thinking through what you are doing.
If you find yourself being the recipient of an email which triggers you into an emotion then I highly advise that you set that email aside and come back to it later once the surge in your mind has calmed. And if it really bothers you then ask a friend for help, because it may not trigger them at all. Trust me, you are not the only person to ever get a "I have been watching you" or "I see the websites you have been going to" or "I am an agent of the CRA/IRS and you owe us money" kind of email - I can let you know right now, these are automated and not real.
Scams emails are sent to trigger us to react quickly, without thinking, and try to force us to avoid the "or else" scenario. A scenario where you want to avoid sharing your website history with friends or family, to avoid the police because you owe tax money. They all lead to the exact same resolution - the transfer of money our of your pocket or else.
So if you find yourself reading an email supposedly sent by the lawyer of a prince from a remote corner of the world who has no descendants and wants to leave you their inheritance - remember the following words... if it's too good to be true, then it probably is.
Scam emails: Check the email sender
For those who want to learn something new when it comes to verifying if an email is a scam - we will now cover how to check if the sender looks legitimate.
When it comes to emails there are two parties, you are the recipient and you have an email address. The person who sent the email is the sender and they also have an email address.
Both email addresses are made up of a name and a domain, let's use ServiceCenter-Centredeservices@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca as our example, the first part ServiceCenter-Centredeservices is the name, it can be a persons name, something informal or even something completely random.
The email also contains an @ symbol, this is mandatory for all email addresses. The second part is the domain nrc-cnrc.gc.ca and we will focus on this part.
If you are unsure of whether the email is a scam then search for the domain in Google.
If the domain yields no results, or very few results then the chance it is a scam has increased.
If the domain yields results then there is a good chance the sender is real. For example, searching for nrc-cnrc.gc.ca yields:
We can see from the results that there are over 900,000 results and the website identifies itself as the NRC.