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Updated: February 3, 2020 10 Things

10 Things I know about... Email scams

10) Nigerian prince lives. The royalty who wants to send you money is the oldest scam in the book, yet it continues to lure victims. Phishing works by creating false trust to give up log-in credentials, click a bogus URL or download a malware-infected file.

Michelle Drolet

9) Avoid pain. Be aware successful phishing scams can result in stealing your identity, blocking access to your computer, and then demanding a hefty ransom to reinstate access.

8) Scammers too creative. With touchscreens popular now, you may find what appears to be a human hair follicle (digitized) or flea on your screen. Swipe it, and malware is downloaded.

7) Nudges work. We’re impatient people driven by a sense of urgency. Scammers exploit your natural impulse to click and be fooled. Emails may appear to come from someone you trust in your contacts.

6) Familiarity breeds trust. Scammers build bogus proxies of known institutions (banks) or payment providers (credit cards), copying logos and modifying the URL to fool you. Their success depends on your too-quick-to-click impulsive behavior.

5) Suspect all URLs. If you are suspicious of a link, take the smart precaution of validating the source and visit the bona fide site directly. Scammers are even falsifying HTTPS.

4) Don’t download. Always verify the person who sent you a file actually did send you a file to download. Sometimes distrust is the best policy.

3) Obey your instincts. Trusted sources like your bank or the U.S. Internal Revenue Service will never email you to ask that you reset your password or input personal identification by following a link. Any email asking for private data is most likely fraudulent.

2) Uncharitable charities. Contacts made by alleged charities are suspect, especially those designed to tug at your heart strings. Seek out only known, reputable charities when making donations.

1) Always update. Never ignore requests from Windows or Apple to run updates. Many a million-dollar breach was a result of failing to do simple updates. Set your settings to automatically make these updates.

Michelle Drolet is a CEO of Towerwall, a woman-owned independent data security services provider based in Framingham. You may reach her at

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