With the increased use of the Internet comes the increased misuse of the Internet. Many individuals and organizations are using email and websites to defraud users.
Spam, or unsolicited marketing email, has become a huge problem for most email users. The College is working on ways to try to filter such email, but the College must choose a solution carefully so as not to prevent solicited, valid email.
You can do something about email you do receive. The Federal Trade Commission has a Web site that addresses many topics about trade and the Internet, including spam, deceptive marketing and money-making schemes. They also allow email users to forward spam for possible investigation, and they have an online complaint form if you have had a problem with spam or you have been defrauded by a company. Also see the Secret Service's "Frequently Asked Questions," which addresses identity theft, credit card fraud, and ways of protecting yourself.
Tips to Avoid Being Defrauded Over the Internet
- Never give out your credit card number to a company you do not know. Do not release this number if a company claims to need it do determine you are over 18. Many people later find unauthorized charges which are difficult to stop.
- Keep in mind: if it looks to good to be true, it probably is.
- Many schemes involve working at home to make money. Most involve modest to high investments with small or no yields. Check out any company that wants you to do work for them before you sign on. Check out any offers with your local Consumer Affairs Bureau (click here for Massachusetts' Office) and State Attorney General (click here for Massachusetts' Attorney General).
- Never give out bank information or personal information to a company you do not know and trust. Most reputable companies will not need most of that information, or will not ask for it online or on the phone.
Tips Specific to Spam
- Try to avoid listing your email in public. Once it is public, it becomes a target for spam.
- Complain to the sender's ISP; most ISPs have policies that ban the use of their service for spam. Send the spam to them with full headers on so they can identify the sender, and be sure to state in your message that you are complaining about their email.
- Do not respond to unsolicited email; this alerts an organization that may have randomly hit your email address that the account is active and may subject you to further emails, some of which may not even appear to come from the same place.
- Spammers can get addresses from jokes, pleas for emails going to a sick person, or any other forwarded email with a list of addresses. Do not forward such lists; if there is content in the email you wish to forward, cut that content and paste into a new email without forwarding all those addresses. This avoids inadvertently sending your friend's address(es) back to the person collecting them.
Special Virus Alert
And always remember never to open attachments from people you do not know. The safest practice when opening an attachment from someone you do know and trust is to save it first and run a virus scan on it before you open it. Be sure to keep your virus scanning program up-to-date to catch the newest viruses. This not only protects you, but also anyone you may email and everyone in your address book.