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Identifying Scammers and Protecting Yourself from Fraud

The internet is an incredible tool that has the possibility to make our lives so much easier. It offers the ability to do virtually anything from the comfort of your home on your computer, or on the go from your smartphone. Doing business online comes with its own risks, and a significant risk is a cybercriminal obtaining and fraudulently using your personal or financial information. As a regular internet user, it’s important to protect yourself from these cyber-criminals. Here are some ways to identify scammers and protect your information on the internet.


Scammers use various techniques in hopes of obtaining your personal information. A common way that they do this is through phishing emails.1 They will send emails or messages directly to you with requests for your personal information and may include links that will lead you to another site. What can be difficult about these emails or sites is that they can look completely legitimate and may not obviously be a scam. These emails or messages may include an exciting offer available for you or use scare tactics to get you to follow the requested instructions and give up your personal information.

Protecting Yourself

The idea of scammers obtaining your information can be frightening, but there are things that you can do to protect yourself from them.

  • Personal Information: Be wary of where you publish your personal information. Keep all personal information private2 – don’t publish your personal email, phone number, etc. publicly on your social media profiles.
  • Emails and Messages: Review any emails and messages you receive from unknown senders and verify there are no obvious grammar or spelling mistakes, this can be a red flag that the email is not legitimate. Never respond directly to an email with any personal information. If anything at all seems suspicious, be sure to mark the email as spam.
  • Websites: Inspect website links for any spelling errors. You can also search directly for the company in question and verify the validity of the company to ensure the web link in the email matches the direct company website. Verify the website is “secure” and never enter personal information to an unsecured website. You can tell a website is secure3 if it has “https” at the beginning of the URL, if it has a privacy policy, if there are misspellings in the URL, and more.

When in doubt, you can always contact the company directly to confirm the information, or to report a possible scammer. You can also report a phishing attempt to the Anti-Phishing Working Group or to the FTC.


1Irwin, Luke. (2022, Mar 22). Retrieved from: https://www.itgovernance.co.uk/blog/5-ways-to-detect-a-phishing-email

2Federal Trade Commission. (2021, Apr). Retrieved from: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/what-know-about-identity-theft

3Stouffer, Clare. (2021, Oct 28). Retrieved from: https://us.norton.com/blog/how-to/how-to-know-if-a-website-is-safe#