Email Spam and Phishing

It seems like the volume of email spam has doubled in the last month. Increasingly, we receive daily emails for better mortgage rates, pharmaceutical discounts, and offers to enlarge body parts we don't even have.

The next generation of sophisticated tools is available to email spammers. Hidden code can be embedded into email allowing the sender to track it. A "spam beacon" lets the sender know that this is a valid, live, email address. The sender can also tell if you've opened the email before you tossed it. "Nearly half of all spam is bugged with so-called "spam beacons" for tracking users who open junk mail, said e-mail filtering firm MX."

The latest email scams have also evolved. The newest scams are called phishing attacks. Spammers copy and paste web coding, making their email message appear to be official. They provide links to "look alike" websites where they try to trick you into revealing your personal financial information, by asking you to update an account such as Ebay, PayPal or CitiBank (or other well known entities). Phishing attacks are successful 5% of the time.

The primary motivation behind these emails is identity theft. Scammers are looking to get you to their website and get your information. If the authenticity of the sender is questionable, call the company that sent the email. Most business email will also contain a phone number.

Earthlink is trying to address this problem by releasing new software. Its latest anti-spam software is available to both members and non-members. The software installs with Internet Explorer and automatically downloads a list of known "scam" websites. If you surf over to a site on the list, you will receive a warning.

Given the large volume of unsolicited email that must be sorted through and deleted daily by businesses, do not rely on email as your primary vehicle of communication. If the information is time sensitive, it's best to follow up with a phone call.

About The Author

MARKETING COORDINATOR and WEBSITE DESIGNER-Radha Khalsa, has extensive experience in the areas of marketing analysis, strategic planning and project management.

[email protected]

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