Anti-spam software will not only weed out those embarrassing e-mails from Svetlana in Russia with information about “male enhancements”, it can also keep you from falling victim to phishing scams that can leave you vulnerable to identity theft. But it doesn’t hurt to be cautious yourself.

Here are a few tips to help you spot a phishing scam.
1. All websites and companies that touch your money in any way, tell you first thing: We will never ask for your account number or information in an e-mail. You can count on your bank to raise their service charge fees. You can count on the IRS to make it impossible to find a phone number on their website where you can talk to a human being. And you can count on any secure establishment to never, ever ask you for your username and password in an e-mail – not your bank, not eBay, not an online store, and certainly not the IRS.

2. Check the e-mail address. If it doesn’t look like the website url of the organization they’re claiming to be, chances are they aren’t. Your bank is not going to misspell their own name in the e-mail address. Nor are they going to have numbers or text-speak or anything unprofessional in their e-mail address. Chances are they are paying someone, somewhere a lot of money to make sure their image is very professional, and just isn’t going to cut it.

3. If the e-mail was from the person you thought it was, you wouldn’t be able to see who else they sent the same message to. If you’re suspicious about an e-mail that’s asking you for secure information check out who else they’ve sent the message to. If everyone they’ve sent it to has “cutekitty” in their e-mail address, just like you, chances are they’re blitzing the internet and are not who you think they are. And the very fact that you can see who else they’re sending this to, doesn’t really look good for their privacy policy, does it?

4. Don’t believe everything you read. If you don’t think it sounds possible, run it through Google, and see what other people are saying. The craziest phishing scam out there right now claims to be from a hitman hired to kill you unless you pay them twice what they’ve already been “paid”. A quick Google of some of the lines from this e-mail will quickly let you know that it’s totally bogus, so don’t get scared! Get smart! And then delete, delete, delete.

5. If you figure out that the e-mail you’ve received is just a chance to bilk you out of your private information, report it to the company they’re impersonating. These companies don’t want to be the reason you end up having to fight for your identity for the rest of your life. Not so much because they care so much, as it’s just some seriously bad press for them. So let them know when someone is targeting their customers. Then maybe they can forewarn others, and try to keep their client information – your information – under even tighter wraps. If you can keep these things in mind, and have a strong spam filter on your e-mail server, you shouldn’t have any trouble avoiding some of the nastiness lurking on the internet.
Guest post by: Edward Lansink from