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“During our regular verification of accounts, we couldn’t verify your information. Please click here to update and verify your information."
Sound familiar? You've likely received email saying this or something like it, purporting to be from eBay, PayPal, or your bank. Or a recently-deceased Nigerian diplomat's envoy has decided you are the perfect person to help launder his millions of dollars. Or you've won a European lottery. It's amazing how many nice people want to send you money, as long as you provide them your name, address, social security number, and bank account information.
As you've probably learned by now, these claims are utterly bogus. What to do with those scam emails now, though? Well, how about a chance to actually do something to stem the tide and catch the crooks? This article will explain where to forward scam emails.
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Wait, Are You Seriously Saying Forwarding Scam Emails Can Stop The Crooks?
Actually apprehending the perpetrators of email scams is quite rare. Chances are very, very slim of ever catching the perpetrators of these scams. Doesn't sound very reassuring, does it?
It gets better. See, when these organizations that you forward scam emails to know the scam emails are going on, they can then make their employees and customers aware of it. They send emails of their own warning people of the scam, and reminding them, for instance, that legitimate emails will never ask readers to click a link. Government authorities like the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) in the U.S. also track email scams and do occasionally gather enough evidence to put scammers behind bars.
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Where to Forward Scam Emails
There are 3 primary places you may decide to forward scam emails to: government agencies, the Anti-Phishing Working Group, and the company being impersonated (if an email is pretending to be from a company it's not).
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In the U.S., forward scam emails to the FTC at: email@example.com
Other countries have more complicated processes for forwarding scam emails, often depending on the industry (financial scams are often asked to be forwarded to the country's Ministry of Finance, for example). Check your country's consumer-protection division for more information.
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The Anti-Phishing Working Group
The Anti-Phishing Working Group is a nonprofit clearinghouse that "collects, analyzes, and exchanges lists of verified credential collection sites, like those used in phishing." If your scam email is trying to gather personal information, send it to the Anti-Phishing Working Group as well.
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The Company or Institution Being Impersonated
Typing "firstname.lastname@example.org" into a search engine will usually bring up the company's fraud department and tell you where to forward scam emails. Some companies are so frequently targeted by email scammers that their address for forwarding scam emails is common knowledge:
- eBay: forward scam emails to email@example.com
- Paypal: forward scam emails to firstname.lastname@example.org
In addition to knowing how to identify scam emails, knowing where to forward scam email so that authorities can take action, is very important. Now you know what to do the next time scammers send you email trying to mine your personal information: you can fight back!