Email scams take advantage of consumer fears


Financial crisis and scams go together as well as peanut butter and jelly. These scams have been around longer than the Internet, which is hardly the first technology used by con artists. During the Great Depression the use of telegrams to pitch "investment" offers to wealthy Northerners exploded.

It seems the more things change, the more they stay the same. Microsoft reports that email scams are on the rise as unscrupulous individuals try to capitalize on these uncertain times. Tim Cranton, an Internet Safety Expert at Microsoft, recently told Reuters that email scams are not only more sophisticated but they are also taking advantage of the public's fears surrounding bank closings and mortgage issues.

On top of these new scams which related to current events, there are also plenty of email scams which prey upon our desire to get rich quick. These scams often require users to pay a fee in order to claim the winnings of a foreign lottery. In case you didn't see where this is going; the winnings never arrive.

The common worry is that consumers, desperate for money to support themselves, will set aside good judgment and send what little money they do have to these scammers. Most of us don't think we would ever fall for an email scam but a recent survey from Microsoft found that 25% of competent computer users are worried that they will get taken by one of these well-crafted cons!

Keep this in mind as you gather for Thanksgiving in the coming weeks; make sure you tell your relatives to watch out for emails that seem too good to be true or purport to save them money on their mortgage. In fact you can click the "Email this" link below to send this article directly to your friends and family. Keep your money safe and don't respond to email solicitations that you have even the smallest doubt about. You can learn more about email scams and how to protect yourself at Microsoft's Security at Home section.