SCAMD Your Scam Emails

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We’ve got to hand it to the hackers, phishers and identity thieves: They’re getting good. Their emails are beginning to look so legitimate, they've almost fooled us.

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Yeah, the bad guys are getting good. But we’re better. And we’re going to help our members be better too.

Scam emails can often include legitimate company logos, return addresses and even 1-800 phone numbers. It’s understandable that you might think they are real. If you’ve received an email that appears to be from AOL, try applying the SCAMD method to it. Check for:

S – Spelling and grammar. It never ceases to amaze us that a phisher or identity thief will put a good amount of time and effort into creating a truly genuine-looking email and then spell every other word wrong or add gratuitous commas. Rest assured, a real AOL email goes through a rigorous review and approval process. If you’ve received an email with multiple spelling or grammar errors, it’s probably a scam.

C – Certified Mail. Typically AOL sends official communications as Certified Mail. Certified AOL Mail is a feature designed to help you easily identify email that has been sent by AOL. You can recognize certified mail before you even open it by the envelope type in your inbox. If it has a blue ribbon, then it’s certified.

A – Asking for personal information. Almost no legitimate company will email you requesting personal information such as your password or your social security number. If you receive an email claiming you need to update your billing information, check all the other factors first (are the logos correct, is everything spelled right, did it arrive as a certified mail?). If you have any suspicions about the email, call the company before you click on any links within the email or provide any personal information. NOTE: Do not use a phone number provided in a suspicious email. Many phishers have gotten so sophisticated that they will set up fake toll-free phone numbers to collect your information. Go to the website of the company and use the “Contact Us” link to find the company’s phone number.

M – Mass Mailings. If you got an email claiming you’ve been selected to win a prize or your credit information has expired and there are 500 other recipients listed in the “to” or “cc” fields, chances are it’s a scam.

D – Details. You can often find out the true return email address of a sender by clicking on the “Details” link under the “To:” section, in the header of your email. There is typically a lot of information in this view, but if the sender is using a fake “from” address, you’ll see the real one in the details view, usually under “Reply to.”

One final word of advice: Never, ever respond to a spam email. By doing so, you confirm that your email account is active, and you'll likely be flooded with more spam and scam attempts.

If you are unsure of an email's authenticity, forward the email to Highlight the message you want to forward, and then click Forward to ensure that we receive the email along with the original message. If you prefer, you can also provide additional information before sending the email.



In less than 10 seconds anyone can find your name, age, address, phone number, and relatives’ names – without you ever knowing about it. With the click of a button, MyPrivacy stops hundreds of Web sites form exposing your information online.

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McAfee® Internet Security

These powerful safety tools provide comprehensive protection that's automatically on guard and up-to-date, helping keep your family and your PCs safe from viruses, spyware, hackers and identity thieves. (Note: If you're a paid AOL member, this software is included with your membership at no additional charge. Click here to get it.

Also See...

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As you read e-mail, check your stock portfolio or post a status update on Facebook, you leave invisible tracks on the Internet. How can you protect your personal information from being misused? The simple answer: Be smart!

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If you chose an easy-to-remember password, such as your user name or even the word "password," we advise you to change it right away. Easily guessed passwords can compromise your personal identity, privacy and financial accounts.

Never Say THIS on Facebook or Twitter

The most dangerous thing you can post to your Facebook page or Twitter account is information about where you're going when you are not at home.

How to Spot an E-Mail Phishing Scam

Phishing scams are emails designed to trick you into revealing sensitive personal information, such as passwords, banking information, your Social Security number and more. How do you know a scam when you see one? Get five clues for knowing when spam is really a scam.

How to Clear Your Cache (And Why You'd Want to)

Clearing away temporary Internet files, otherwise known as a "cache," is a good tip for speeding up your browser and protecting your privacy.

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