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As transactions continue to shift into the online world, some people can take advantage of your email without you knowing.

Mail interception fraud happens when fraudsters monitor email transactions between a business and a client. After waiting for a high-value transaction, they can intercept the email and change the bank account details. Also, they can pose as a third party asking for payment to their bank account.

Anyone can be susceptible to mail interception fraud, whether you are a client or a business. So, to guide you on how fraudsters intercept emails and give you some knowledge on how to prevent them, read more about mail interception fraud below.

Understanding How Fraudsters Can Intercept Emails

Fraudsters can obtain your email username and password through phishing. Email phishing is the act of sending emails where the phishers disguise themselves as a credible company that convinces recipients to reveal their passwords or other personal information.

Aside from directly asking for your information, email phishing can also attach malicious software (malware). Once installed, the hackers can now get your passwords.

After obtaining your password, they can now monitor your incoming mails waiting for the perfect opportunity. They hide incoming emails by filtering and sending them directly to your trash to prevent you from seeing the mail.

If you are a buyer, the fraudsters can now send you a new email asking for your payment using an email address that is almost identical to the original seller’s email address – such as changing a single letter or character of the email address. It is also known as email spoofing.

Meanwhile, if you are a seller, the fraudsters can simply send a new email to your buyer with altered bank account details. The unsuspecting buyer will then send the payment to the bank account set by the fraudsters.

Other Consequences of a Compromised Email Account

Your email account contains personal and sensitive information, which fraudsters may use for their own advantage. Listed below are some of the consequences you may experience once fraudsters gain access to your email account:

  1. They can impersonate you and ask your family or friends to send some money.
  2. If you use the same password for your other accounts, they can access your social media, online banking, or other accounts.
  3. They can get sensitive information, such as your financial details, address, and personal email messages.
  4. They can access your email-based two-factor authentication, which is crucial for your email security.
  5. If you use an email account for business, they can destroy your reputation by scamming your loyal and potential customers.

How to Prevent Email Interception Fraud

As mentioned, fraudsters can intercept your emails, whether you are a client or a business. To prevent this dangerous misfortune, here are some preventive measures you can follow:

  • Always check the email address if they are authentic or not.
  • Usually, email messages with urgent call-to-action, such as ‘click this button now!’, are a scam, so don’t click on them.
  • Check your trash and sent items folder for intercepted emails from time to time.
  • Use different and complex passwords for your email, social media accounts, and online banking for better security.
  • Update your passwords regularly.
  • Use password managers and two-factor authentication.
  • Check devices that are currently logged in on your email account.
  • Update your anti-virus and anti-malware software to prevent the installation of unwanted malware.
  • If you are a business owner, inform your customers that your current banking account details will not change unless stated on your official platforms.
  • When using public computers, don’t forget to log out after use.
  • As a more secure alternative, give banking details over the seller’s or buyer’s official phone number.

These are preventive measures against email interception fraud. However, if you think your email account has already been compromised, follow the steps below to retrieve your email account:

  1. Sign in from a different device since your computer might have malware infections.
  2. If you cannot sign in, try answering the security questions you have set at the initial set-up of the account or contact the support group of your email host provider.
  3. Once you recover your email account, check the sent items folder and activity log.
  4. When necessary, inform people who have received intercepted emails from your email address.

Final Thoughts

Fraudsters can intercept your email through phishing or malware. As an email user, it is crucial to secure your account by establishing a strong and uneasy-to-crack password. Since email interception fraud can happen to anyone, it is better to be safe than be sorry later on.

Moreover, as cliche as it may seem but prevention is always better than cure. Always remember to safeguard your password, avoid clicking suspicious emails, and update your anti-virus or anti-malware software to prevent phishing emails from accessing your email account information. These are just some of the things you can do to prevent fraudsters from intercepting your emails.

Websites ask for more and more information in exchange for their services. While most use security measures, online nothing is 100% safe.

However, to access services online, you need to provide some personal details.

From names to addresses and bank accounts, our most sensitive data is available online. You’re not wrong to wonder whether this is risky.

Thousands of phishing scams come to light each year. So, how can you offer websites personal data and keep your identity safe?

Here are a few tips to avoid online phishing.

Use a Burner Email Address

The first piece of information websites require is an email address. Without a valid address, you can’t subscribe to any website.

Yet, no one forces you to use your personal email address. If you have safety concerns or you want to avoid marketing emails, use a different one.

Using your work email account is an option. However, it most likely contravenes your company’s policies. Therefore, the best and choice is to use a burner email.

These emails work just like burner phones. They are perfectly legitimate email addresses you can use, then discard.

Burner email addresses have limited validity. Some of them expire in approximately 10 minutes. This shouldn’t be a problem because most subscription processes take less.

You can fill in the subscription form with a burner email address. Then, access that email address to validate your new account, and you’re done.

The good news is that you can get email addresses like this for free. There are multiple providers that offer them.

Guerrilla Mail, 10 Minute Mail, and Maildrop are some of them. The only essential aspect to keep in mind when using them is your password.

You will never be able to access a burner email address again. Therefore, to avoid losing your account, note down your password.

Create a Secondary Email Account for Subscriptions

Burner emails are great for blogs or magazines that require subscriptions. However, if you need an account at an online shop or service, they might not suffice.

The problem with websites you access recurrently is you might need support.

What if you purchase something online and there is a problem with your delivery? The shop’s representatives might contact you by email.

If you use a burner, you prevent them from reaching out to you.

An alternative solution to avoid this is to use a secondary email address. This email account can serve only for subscription purposes.

Don’t attach sensitive documents there and don’t use it for regular communication. This way, you minimize the risk of phishing.

You can create this secondary address and simply use it for websites where you’re a customer or subscriber.

Use the Safest Payment Methods

The one thing that’s as valuable as your personal data is your money. In fact, when thinking about phishing risks, most people fear for their bank accounts.

There are all sorts of malware programs these days. Some infiltrate your PC to steal credentials. Others can even gain access to your bank account directly.

Phishing scams often target banking detail.

So, it is quite possible to realize one day that someone gradually stole small amounts of money from your account.

A more drastic scenario is to have a large amount of money stolen. The bottom line is that you need to protect your precious bank account.

And the way to go about it is to share its details with as few third parties as possible.

If you have any alternative e-Wallets such as PayPal, Trustly, Neteller, etc., try to use those when shopping online.

If a website only accepts bank cards, use one that’s not linked to your savings. A good phishing prevention strategy is to use a separate card for online payments.

This should only have a limited amount of money.

Avoid using your salary or savings bank account if possible.

In regards to payment methods, we have seen some great security upgrades in order to battle these types of scams within some big investment companies such as, PSP Investments, CDPQ Investment group and Diamond Shield Management.

Use Alternative Facts

This method might seem a bit shady, but it is a good way to protect your identity. Unless you’re creating an account on an institution or company platform, you can use alternative facts.

These are basically fake details you enter on the subscription form. It is a method to avoid handing out your real information.

Except for a valid email address, you don’t really need to offer websites any other real information. You can ‘fabricate’ your address, date of birth, name, or phone number.

Platforms have limited possibilities to check if that’s your real data. Just be careful to change your address if you order something from a website.

In this case, you obviously need to provide an accurate delivery address.

Online platforms highly value customer information these days. Our data helps them define their target audience better.

It also enables them to lure us with marketing campaigns. However, there are some risks involved in using your personal data to create accounts online.

To partially tackle them, use the tips above.

Everyone can fall victim to an online scam and as you’ll find out from the story of a British actor, famous people are no exception. The man who is playing Fr Liam Plunkett’s role in the popular soap Fair City reported having been scammed out of €7,000. Discover his story and learn more about how you can avoid falling for similar tricks.

Phelim Drew, aka Fr Liam Plunkett in the British series fair City, was getting ready to spend the summer holiday roaming the country, and to do this, he decided to buy a caravan ahead of the warm season. The first thing he did, which is something most of us would nowadays think of before purchasing any type of good, was to search online for a suitable option. This is how it all began.

Phelim came across a website that seemed legit and professional and was called M.J. Caravan Sales Ltd. According to the information the man could find online about this company, M.J. Caravan Sales Ltd. claimed it was located in Tamworth, Staffordshire, UK. There were no red flags that could have warned the actor that the website was actually fake, and its only purpose was to prey on people’s hard-earned money. Just like any other site in its niche, M.J. Caravan Sales Ltd. also presented its offering with a few useful details on the type of caravans it offered and photos that showcased their portfolio.

Lured by what he saw and read, and the price tag those caravans had, Phelim Drew decided to buy one. To do this, the actor even got a loan in order to pay the due amount for the vehicle. After the money was transferred to the scammer’s wallet, and the man was waiting to get his much-desired caravan, there was no more news from the seller. The actor waited and then reached out to the support staff repeatedly until he finally realized he got scammed. The fake caravan website managed to drain €7,000 from Phelim Drew’s pocket.

Unfortunately, the actor and his family started their staycation on the wrong foot despite looking forward to it in the beginning. The actor confessed that he had been camping for years with his family and getting a caravan was the next goal they wanted to reach so they could easily engage in their passion. Since he was aware of how common scams are in his country, the actor said that he was actually eager to buy a caravan from a foreign company hoping it would be more trustworthy. Unfortunately, this was not the case with M.J. Caravan Sales Ltd.

Phelim Drew confessed that he never taught the website was nothing but a scam. He exchanged multiple emails with the company’s staff, and everything seemed normal and the people he talked to seemed truly professional.

At the moment, the actor is keeping in touch with the English police who are trying to track down the scammers and retrieve the stolen money. Additionally, he is also in contact with his bank and the German bank where he transferred money for the promised caravan. Finally, Phelim’s conclusion was that since the whole scam was so polished and it all looked so good and felt so professional, this is what people should watch out for as that’s what fooled him.

If you are also looking forward to making a significant purchase online, here are a few tips to help you steer clear of similar online scams:

  • Try to avoid ‘no name’ companies you can’t find any other information about, except for what is written on their website.
  • Avoid websites that have very little information about their terms and conditions, especially the refund and cancellation conditions, or their privacy policies.
  • If there is no physical address on the website and limited contact details, you might want to steer clear.
  • If the company claims they have been selling products for years to myriad clients, but there are absolutely no reviews online about their service, this is a red flag.

If most of the reviews you can find online about a company are negative, especially if people complain they paid and haven’t received their products, avoid that seller.