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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > August 2013 > Unexpected Email: Think Before You Link

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Unexpected Email: Think Before You Link

If you’ve ever received a vague email urging you to provide personal information or click on a link within the message, you’re certainly not alone. Maybe the email advertised an amazing sale or great job opportunity and made you curious to learn more. Before you click, remember that it’s important to weigh the potential for succumbing to a scam.  

Since the beginning of the year, the Ohio Attorney General’s Office has received more than 90 complaints involving unsolicited emails. Some emails prompt recipients to click on a link to collect “unclaimed funds from the government.” Others claim the recipient has been selected for a work-at-home opportunity as a “survey taker” or “mystery shopper.” However, the recipient must reply with personal information to be considered.
Regardless of the pitch, the result is the same. These emails are designed to trick you into revealing personal information. Clicking on their seemingly harmless links or attachments may download malicious software to your computer, including viruses designed to scan for Social Security numbers and banking information. These viruses may increase your risk for identity theft.
To deal with potential scam emails:
  • Copy and paste the first few sentences or first paragraph into an Internet search engine and add the word “scam.” The results may indicate whether others have received and reported similar emails. 
  • A scam email may look very similar to one from a legitimate business, so be very careful about clicking any links, including an “unsubscribe” button at the bottom. Clicking the link may download a virus rather than remove your email from the list.
  • Designate unwanted email as junk prior to deleting it so future email from that sender is routed to your junk mailbox.
  • Limit unwanted emails by not signing up for free giveaways or surveys. Often, companies sell your personal information to other companies — and possibly scammers.
  • Skim the email for misspelled words or grammatical errors. Since email scams sometimes originate outside the United States, errors could signal a scam.
  • Be wary of emails requesting money. Even if the message appears to be from a friend or family member in need of urgent help, think twice before responding or sending money. The message could be a sign that your friend’s email account has been hacked. Also, be leery of emails that only contain a link to a website; this commonly happens when email accounts are hacked. 
If you suspect a scam or an unfair business practice, report it to the Ohio Attorney General’s Office at or 800-282-0515.