What is spam? No not the gelatinous meat in a square can. Spam isn’t that annoying text message or e-mail from the company you gave your email address and/or phone number to for that must have e-book. Perhaps they provided you a discount to save 20% off an online order in exchange for your email or phone number, if you intentionally gave them your contact information, those are not spam and are simply promotional messages. Legitimate business provide ways to easily opt out of messages by scrolling to the end of the email and unsubscribing, once you have unsubscribed from their email list you should receive confirmation that you have been successfully unsubscribed. Legitimate text messages are easily opted out of by replying with STOP or some other similar reply. Spam messages are unsolicited/unrequested messages used to incite emotion that include phishing, scams, malware, and others.
Phishing is a type of scam where the message looks to be from a legitimate business, family member, co-worker, etc. by claiming you have won a sweepstakes, giving you a false warning about a family member, or asking for money to help someone you know.
Scam messages are a type of click bait, meaning they are crafted and designed in a way to get you to click on the link and/or message. Scammers send out messages with a subject line like “Congratulations you won,” or “Find out how to collect your prize.” You may get a text message saying, “We’ve been trying to deliver this package.”
Malware is the most common type of software used to gain access to your computer, network and/or smartphone. An example is a text or email message, that seems to be legitimate, with a link to a download with the offer to protect you from harmful malware and viruses. Unless you are looking for software to protect yourself against viruses and such, an unsolicited invitation for a download is rarely safe.
Text messages and emails are not the only sources that scammers will use. Robocalls, sent via autodialing, warning you that your social security number is suspended or the warranty on your 1990 Toyota is set to expire, is also a type of scam. These types of calls are designed to get you to press a certain number or speak with a live agent often with the intent of trying to get your financial information.
Currently there are scammers who are sending messages claiming the IRS made a mistake about your stimulus check and click to verify your social security number, address, and provide your bank account information. Another scam is a text message concerning COVID 19 saying that you may have been exposed to a person with COVID, or “click here,” or “your results are in.” A good rule of thumb would be to never click on a link unless you are sure where the message came from. Also, if it is from a legitimate company there would be contact information for you to reach them directly to verify the message is legitimate.
The best way to protect yourself from viruses, malware, or any other types of scams, is never download anything sent from a sender you don’t know and never share personal information if you have doubts about the other party.