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Why you should never reply to scam and spam emails

You should never reply to scam and spam emails. Ever. Instead, invest your time into making your device more secure.

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If you’ve ever gotten the idea that replying to scam and spam emails could be fun, think again. By replying to spam, you let the senders know that your account is alive and in use. That means you sign yourself up for more trouble. 

Still not convinced? Then stay tuned as we proceed to shed some light on the matter.

Sometimes, the best course of action is to “let them win”

Based on the argument made in the introduction, pleasing your ego by engaging in a verbal discussion with spammers is not worth your time. You should not even click the “unsubscribe” link. After all, you never know what awaits on the other side. Could be more malware and spam that’s headed your way. 

The reality of scams is that having a hacker targeting only you is a rare sight. Instead, they mass-message numerous people at once, hoping that one of them will bite. And replying to their emails if one of the ways to expose yourself.

There’s more trouble on the horizon if you reply

Not only are you more likely to receive more spam from the hacker if you reply, but you also reveal a valuable piece of information by doing so – the header of your email. By using an email header tracer, anyone can look up the geolocation of your server. How comfortable would you be by letting them have that? 

And that’s not all. If scammers know your full name from your email address and your location, they’re one search away from getting more details about you. Sometimes that includes even your home address. 

A spam email is likely to fall into one of these 4 categories

Although the spammers are always upgrading their tactics, a spam email you’ve received is likely to fall into any of these 4 categories:

  • Pharmacy spam. Even if you were on the lookout for the specific pill X they’re advertising, would you ever trust buying it from someone also producing spam?
  • Lottery scams. Sure, you’ve won the lottery without even purchasing a ticket. Congratulations are in order. Or a wealthy banker has contacted you, and he wants to hand you a hefty sum of money. Or there is a long-lost Persian relative who’s seeking an heir, and so forth. Don’t be naive. It’s a scam.
  • Phishing. A design of phishing email looks similar or identical to the emails of authoritative sites that most of us use. Amazon, PayPal, Facebook — you name it. And these emails feature links leading to fraudulent login form designed to harvest your login credentials. Malware could also be waiting for you there.
  • Malware distribution. You get a dodgy attachment masquerading as an invoice or some document. But once you open it – boom, your computer is now infected with malware.

Some concrete examples

It’s not enough to ignore spam or scam emails. You also need to recognize them for what they are. For example, you can review some concrete phishing examples to know how to spot phishing scams.

You may have heard about the PayPal scam. It was circulating the web for quite some time. Recipients would get an email where the sender (pretending to be PayPal tech support) warns about “unusual activity” in their accounts. These emails would urge to take action as soon as possible and provide a link for PayPal activity review page. But that link would redirect to a fake Paypal login page. It doesn’t take long to guess where this was going. Yet, phishing is still one of the most common types of scam emails you’ll receive. And many people still fall for them.

Then, we have an increase of sextortion emails as of late. The sender would notify you of having breached the security of your computer and hacked your accounts. To make it convincing, the email may begin with “I know your password – xxxx” or similar alert. Then it would proceed to warn you they had gone through your browsing history, unveiling some adult websites you visit. If you don’t pay to shut them up, they will release this information – along with the webcam shots taken at the time – to your employer, friends, and relatives. Talk about embarrassing!

If you’ve received one of these, don’t cave in, as it’s likely nothing more than a scam. But to be sure, it’s a good idea to run an antivirus scan on your computer. Also, if the email included your actual password, change the passwords of all your accounts. And don’t make them easy to crack while you’re at it. Use a password generator to ensure your passwords are unique and robust.

Wrapping things up

You should never reply to scam and spam emails. Ever. Instead, invest your time into making your device more secure. And learn more about the other cybersecurity threats you might face online.

Have any thoughts on this? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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