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  • Nancy Spear

Email Scam with a Side of Empathy and Reassurance

Nothing like clicking on your email looking forward to seeing photos of your grandkids or a Zoom invitation for a family party. Then, BAM! -- you see an email from PayPal saying that you owe $999!

That’s what happened to a client of mine a few weeks ago. She forwarded the email to me. She thought it was a scam and I told her she was right. Here are some hints:

1. Look at the sender’s email address. (If you don’t see it right away, click on the downward pointing arrow to the right of the address.) This email is from a Gmail account; nothing in it says PayPal. That’s our first hint.

2. Then it says, “Hello, You’ve received a Invoice….” Red flag! Grammatical error. It should say “an Invoice.” A company as big as PayPal will have a proofreader, if not a whole marketing department carefully monitoring its messaging.

3. Finally, never call the phone number on the email. I Googled the number and guess what? It’s not a PayPal number. It’s actually a construction company…interesting. You can Google “PayPal customer service,” call that number, and ask them about your email.

And for those annoying phone calls? If you don’t know the number, don’t answer. If the caller really wants to talk to you, they will leave a voicemail. Then you decide if you want to call them back. (If you’re unsure, you can always call me.)

Finally, know that you are not alone. About a month ago, I started receiving emails saying that my email account was going to be deactivated – from an email address that looked like mine! I took a deep breath and called my email service. After I told the woman on the phone what was happening, she said, “That must be so scary for you. I’m glad you called.” I loved the empathy. She told me a lot of their customers were getting those emails and to delete them.

I’ve received other spam emails and immediately called one of the amazing tech guys I work with because even Tech Support needs Tech Support. They reassured me.

So, trust your instincts. Ask someone if you’re unsure. If it seems too good to be true or downright scary, you don’t have to react right away. Thinking it through is always best.

Nancy Spear Nancy’s Tech Help for Older Adults 310-365-9951

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