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E-mail Scams Can Cost You

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It started about 15 years ago with the promise of an untold number of deposits into your bank account, supposedly from Bill Gates, for just sending an e-mail. Little did we know that with the click of the "forward" button, we pushed the proverbial SPAM boulder over the crest and created a perpetual avalanche of dangerous, credit-crushing e-mail based nonsense.

E-mail based crime is responsible for a great deal of debt for people that have done nothing more than react to a message from a friend. And once we identify ourselves formally or agree to a "balance transfer" offer, it is quite often too late to go back. Very slick and apparently authentic e-mails can come from your bank, your current credit card company or a "friendly" debt counselor. The odds are very good that if the message made it into your inbox, it does not contain any sort of overly-aggressive virus that will shut down the neighborhood grid just because you looked at it curiously, so don't be afraid about reading the content of message you are unsure about to learn more about it. In fact, after scanning only a couple of lines, you should be able to tell right away how much of your money its sender is trying to steal. (Usually, as much as they possibly can.)

Remember that no credit card company or legitimate bank will ask you for personal information or account number verification via e-mail. If you are still unsure, call the company and inquire about the e-mail. Do not, however, call any number that is included in the e-mail. Yes, these scam artists are sophisticated enough to set up bogus phone numbers. You may literally be calling an extra line in their mother's basement established to sound just friendly enough to help you verify your credit card number and it's three-digit verification code.

Most bank and credit card company Web sites contain pages of information about privacy and might also have examples of bogus e-mails just like the one you are concerned about.

Once you've determined that the message is an attempt at theft, don't respond to it. Regardless of how angry you are or how clever you think your insult, responding only verifies your e-mail address as real, and that means it goes on another list for another scam. Simply mark the message as SPAM using the appropriate software and move on. Plus, you are not going to tell them anything they have not heard before.

Watch for e-mails that appear to be from people with very common names that sound like someone you know. This technique farms the names in your inbox and creates conglomerate sender identities. For example, your friends Sara Jones and Matt Smith can become Sara Smith from Jones National Bank touting a new, lower rate for all balance transfers of more than $5,000. Wow, thanks for the update Sara!

Basically, good e-mail management should be considered a major component of a sound financial management strategy. Exercise extreme caution whenever an email or website asks for personal information, and remember: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

From the Law Offices of John T. Orcutt. Call today to set up your free initial debt consultation. 1-888-234-4181.

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