Don't get caught out by this email scam

There are many email scams and people are constantly working on ways to fool you into revealing your bank details, login details to online services and so on. You need to be aware of the dangers and how to avoid them. Here is a typical email that tried to fool me into revealing my Apple ID - the username and password used to log into Apple services like iTunes. You might get a similar one, so take a look and learn how to spot the fakes.

Here is the email and it had the subject: Apple ID Temporarily locked. It was a nicely designed email that used a sheet of paper graphic and had an Apple logo in the top right corner. I haven't shown all of it because there isn't enough space here, but it goes on to include more Apple information at the bottom. How do you know whether this is real or not?

Fake Apple ID email

I always start with the assumption that emails like this are fake, unless it contains something that proves it must be real. I immediately know it is fake because it came through on the wrong email address. It is a support email for another website I manage. It is actually quite useful having multiple email addresses and using them for different purposes. When an email arrives in the wrong account you know it's wrong without even reading it.

Another way you can tell that the email is wrong is that it does not mention my name. When dealing with companies they usually include your full name, but scammers can be clever and include this, so it isn't a guarantee that an email is real.

Fake Apple email

The email encourages me to click a link and validate my account. If you do this, you give the scammer your username and password and then they'll be in your account in no time and buying all manner of stuff and charging it to your credit card.

Never click links in emails.

What you should do is to open a browser window and go to the Apple website or log in to iTunes on your Apple Mac, iPhone or iPad. The URL, if you are not sure, is https://appleid.apple.com/ but you can also use https://www.apple.com/support/appleid/. Here is what the web page looks like:

It is possible for scammers to fake websites, but because I opened Safari and typed in the address myself, I know it is almost certainly the real Apple website. Clicking on the green Apple Inc. button in the address box shows that it really is Apple:

Apple ID website

The security certificate confirms that the website being viewed is owned by Apple. This means it is safe to log in and once logged in you can check your account and see if there really is a problem. Of course, there was nothing wrong, it was an email scam. Don't get caught out!

 

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Comments

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Received this today. It started with Dear <my e-mail address> which is actually my iTunes ID. I was nearly hooked then I thought wait, and Googled the subject line and found my way here. The thing to do is forward any suspected e-mails to [email protected]

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