By: Laura Zakrajsheck
Operations Manager, The Milwaukee Company
Let’s face it, today’s world can be a scary place where a split second click on your computer, laptop, or phone has the potential to have negative consequences that can give you a headache for years to come. In a world that is seemingly more and more computer driven by the day, how do you know what emails are safe to open, and more importantly, how do you keep your personal information and financial accounts secure? Below are some tips.
• Beware of Spam. I have noticed lately an increased number of emails hitting my inbox that falsely purport to be coming from The Milwaukee Company, but in reality, are spam sent by someone with malicious intent. How do you spot them?
Before you open an email, hover your curser over the sender’s name. This will allow you to see the sender’s email address, and thereby confirm it is from a valid sender. For example, if the email address does not end with the proper @themilwaukeecompany.com domain, or includes an extension from another country, like @themilwaukeecompany.uk this is a sure sign of spam.
Another sign of spam: the email will be written in English but the English seems to be a bit off – too formal, missing punctuation, simple grammar errors, etc.
- Beware of Links. Even more importantly, never click on links in an email or open an attachment unless you are absolutely sure the sender is legitimate. If you aren’t 100% sure don’t open/click on it. I know not an easy thing to do in a world where everything is right at our fingertips, but train yourself to look before clicking. If you hover your cursor over the link, it will show you a pop-up textbox with the hyperlink URL that it wants to take you to. If the URL is familiar go ahead and click in to it, but if it seems suspicious you may want to call the sender and ask them to confirm that the email message and the link are legitimate.
• Set Up Email Filters to Block Spam Before It Hits Your Inbox. Depending on what email you use, there is generally the option to activate an email filter that automatically sends messages with a particular subject line or from a particular sender directly to a junk folder or even to your trash folder. This video shows how to do this if you use Microsoft Outlook. (I know, the bullet before I am advising you to beware of links but then I put one in this article. It’s never easy, is it.)
- Use Different Email Addresses for Online Orders/Third Parties. Another suggestion that I use personally, is that I have a personal email that I use when I order stuff online and/or provide to third parties when required to provide an email and I have a different personal email for emails I send/receive to my friends and family. This does tend to keep the clutter to a minimum in my friends and family email. If third parties sell/pass my email address along to other vendors, it is that email box that gets cluttered and is more likely to get spam emails.
- Block the Senders of the Spam Emails You Receive. If you discover that someone has sent you a spam message, you can block the sender. In Outlook, simply right click the spam message while it is in your mailbox, and then click “Junk Mail” from the drop-down menu. However, given that spammers often use fake email addresses that differ with every mailing, this approach may only be moderately successful. Likewise, when a legitimate sender shows up in your Spam Folder, you can click “Junk Mail” and choose “Not Junk” and “Never block sender” so that future messages have a better chance of ending up in your Inbox and not your Spam Folder.
While I hope these tips help you to avoid spammers, I have barely scratched the surface. In upcoming articles, I will be sharing tips on how to keep from having your computer or network hacked, and how to keep your financial accounts secure. Small steps, like taking these tips to heart, can make a big difference. They may even save you big headaches in the future.
If there are any other topics you would like us to address in future columns of The Bulletin Board, please let me know. I would be glad to hear from you.
Stay safe, and be careful out there.