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Front Page » March 30, 2010 » Opinion » Email scams go after businesses too
Published 1,727 days ago

Email scams go after businesses too


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By RICHARD SHAW
Sun Advocate publisher

The other morning I was sorting through my daily 500 emails that I get over night, most of which are just junk, when one struck me.

It said I (or the paper) was being sued for copyright infringement. It was kind of a shock. We are careful to make sure if we use anything that is produced outside our company to be sure we have permission to use it.

I looked at it, wondering about the details. I pictured this expensive legal fight, damage to the paper, and certainly to our reputation if we had done something wrong.

Then my brain kicked in instead of my emotions. First, we would have been contacted in some other way, rather than telling us that in two weeks we were having a preliminary hearing in a New York courtroom. Secondly, a lot of things were spelled wrong in the email. It had a link to the Web in it so I clicked on that. It took me right to a down loadable document, not to a Web site.

I went no further. I may be dumb about Web and Internet stuff, but I have learned one thing. Don't click on something sent to you that you know nothing about. So instead I went to Google and tried to look up the law firm listed. There were law firms by that name, but none were in New York. And none dealt with copyright law.

I then tried to look up the company that was supposedly suing us. Under the spelling that was listed there, there was absolutely nothing on the web except a debunking site, which I pulled up and there was an entire file on the very firms I had inquired about. It said they don't really exist. The debunking site said that the documents they attach to the scary emails put worms into servers, spread viruses and generally cause havoc.

I dodged the bullet on that one, because I had listened to the experts and didn't let the emotion of the moment carry me away to do something dumb.

That's what scammers count on. They either present such a good side of something (making money) or try to scare you (by thinking you are in trouble of some sort) that they get you to probe further through their channels to find out more. Then they have you. They can mess up your computer (or network in our case) and can often get very important information from those machines.

These kinds of people go after your emotional response, not after a logical one. Just think about my situation standing by itself. Logically you know that more than an email would be sent to let you know about such legal action. Legal papers would have been served. Lawyers would have been involved (ones you could talk to). The scam didn't even list where such a hearing would be held except some obscure courthouse in New York City. It probably doesn't even exist.

But the gut reaction is to jump on it and find out about it. You want to know and find out how you are being defamed.

That is what they count on, whether it be a business person or an individual, they want you to be illogical.

So when too good or too bad of news about something you know nothing about comes via email or even snail mail, look into it carefully.

Don't take the bait like I almost did.

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March 30, 2010
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