Be aware of a fake email going around that fraudulently appears to be from the Social Security Administration (SSA) using the subject line: “Get Protected.”
The email talks about new features from the SSA that will help you monitor your credit report and inform you if there is any ‘unauthorized’ use of your Social Security number. The email even cites the American S.A.F.E. of 2015. It may sound real, but know that the whole thing is a completely fake ‘phishing’ email.
In fact, the American S.A.F.E. Act of 2015 stands for American “Security Against Foreign Enemies” and has absolutely nothing to do with the Social Security Administration whatsoever.
The real S.A.F.E. Act was passed in the House of Representatives last November and is about the Iraq and Syrian refugee crisis. Phishing emails often use real sounding names in order to appear legitimate.
Phishing emails include an enticing message urging or instructing you to click on a link to follow-through with their offer.
If you click on the link, it may take you to a fake website, set up by a scammer, to trick you into entering your personal info. Worse yet, the link may infect your computer with malware (viruses and spyware).
Here’s a tip: Hover your pointer over the link, does it really show a safe website or a bunch of random letters and symbols. The SSA is a government website, so the web link should end in .gov. When you hover your pointer over the link in this fake SSA email, the clickable link ends in .com instead.
All government websites, like the SSA, Medicare and the IRS will always end in .gov and not .com.
The sender’s email address in this fake email shows as “email@example.com”.
It contains a link that says “To register, click here to get started”. Do not fall for this ruse.
Unless you are 110 percent sure that the email is legitimate never click on any link in an email or open up an attachment. That’s how the majority of malware is spread. Report or forward any suspicious emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) by forwarding the tainted email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Be sure to also report it to the real organization that the email pretends to be originating from and to your email provider. Once you’ve done that, always delete the email from your computer.
If you are unsure of whether the email is legitimate, you can always contact the organization to verify if they sent the email. Find the contact information yourself.
• Linda Vitale is on a mission to empower and educate the public about Scams, Fraud & ID Theft. Get her book “Scam Me Once, Can’t Get Scammed Again at www.amazon.com.