Viruses and scams are a much bigger problem with Windows and Android phones and computers than they are with Macs, however Apple users are not immune. In particular, phishing scams are quite common.
In these scams, you’ll be contacted by someone claiming to Apple Support or iTunes, telling you that you’ve been hacked. Or they’ll send you a receipt from the iTunes Store for something you didn’t buy.
In both cases, these phishing scams are trying to get you to disclose your Apple ID, passwords, and maybe even your credit card number or social security number. Apple would never ask you for this kind of information, but still, people fall for it.
In fairness, these emails are very convincing. They are formatted very nicely, have all of the Apple branding right, and the senders email is very convincing looking. There is usually a sense of urgency to the emails as well, which makes it very confusing.
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Once the scammers have access to your information, they can get into your account easily, get to your credit card information, guess logins for other accounts, and even steal your identity. It can be very inconvenient and costly to be successfully scammed.
Apple, along with some helpful security experts have many different tips to help you recognize these scams and avoid them. We’ve compiled them here, so you can educate yourself.
How to Recognize Phishing Attempts
Scams that try to trick you into giving up your personal information or passwords have a certain feel to them. You should never follow links or open attachments if you sense that an email is suspicious. Here are some giveaways that will warn you of a phishing attempt:
• Most companies will refer to you by name in their messages. Be wary if a message starts with “Dear Customer” or something similar.
• The senders email address should not have typos or look strange. Check the company’s website or Google the email address – this should tell you whether or not the email is legitimate. You can also compare the phone numbers to make sure they match.
• Check to see that your email address and phone number are the same ones you gave the company.
• Although you shouldn’t be clicking any links, if you do click a link and it takes you to a website that does not match the company’s website, get out of there. It’s probably a scam.
• If the message looks different from other messages in quality or branding, be wary.
• If the message is outwardly requesting personal information, that would be unusual. Companies don’t usually do this over email.
• If the message comes out of nowhere, was unsolicited, and contains and attachment, that is strange. Be wary.
• If the message is stressing dangerous consequences for non-compliance, be wary. Apple wouldn’t be sending a message like that.
These are all good ways to verify the authenticity of an email.
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Things Apple Won’t Do
There are certain things that Apple will not do, and if they happen to you, it’s probably a scam. For example: Apple will not call you unsolicited. Always verify the caller’s identity before handing over any information, and if you are suspicious, just hang up.
Apple won’t ever ask you for your Social Security Number, your mother’s maiden name, your full credit card number or your credit card security code over email.
Apple will never threaten or cajole you. Their emails are always well-written, concise, and professional.
The only emails/websites you should trust are ones with apple.com in them. For example: store.apple.com, iforgot.apple.com, etc. The only exception is iCloud.com.
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How to Protect Yourself
Of course, you’ll want to avoid leaving yourself open to phishing attempts at all, but it’s worth being protected in case you do end up handing over information. There are some easy ways to protect yourself.
• Never share your password or verification codes with anybody. Apple won’t ask you for this information when they are giving you support either.
• Use two-factor authentication. This means that you have to give the all-clear with a unique security code before anybody signs into your Apple ID for the first time.
• If you’re worried your account has been compromised, immediately change your password.
What to Do About Pop-Up Pages/Ads
If you are getting pop-up ads telling you that there is something wrong with your device, don’t worry there isn’t. Apple will never try to contact you this way. Scammers are just looking for your personal information.
Don’t click any links and don’t call any numbers, simply close the page and go on your merry way.
How to Report Scams and Suspicious Messages to Apple
Apple likes it when people report suspicious messages and phishing attempts to their phishing and scam prevention departments. They can then work towards eliminating these threats and making their customers safer.
To do this, you simply need to forward the questionable message to Apple with the appropriate heading information. To do this, follow these steps:
In any mail program, select the suspicious email, and then click on Forward as Attachment.
Depending on the type of scam, you will send the email to different addresses. All of them are monitored by Apple, but you may not receive a reply.
If you have received a phishing attempt that is designed to look like it’s from Apple, forward it to email@example.com.
If you’ve received a fake or suspicious email from iTunes Store, App Store, or the iBooks Store, contact iTunes Store to report it.
If you are receiving spam, scams, or otherwise suspicious email to your icloud.com, me.com, or mac.com email, forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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If you are receiving suspicious, scam, or otherwise undesirable messages to your iOS device via iMessage tap on Report Junk. Alternatively, you can screenshot the message and send it to email@example.com.
Reporting scams is a public service and we all thank you for it!
If phishing scams didn’t work, nobody would do them. It’s completely fair to be wary of messages and keep your guard up when you receive messages for companies. It’s worth doing, just to avoid the pain of having your identity stolen.
This article originally appeared in our monthly subscription newsletter, iExpertnews.
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