Bill Kennedy: Be wary of bogus emails from scammers

I am admittedly an old fuddy-duddy when it comes to what now passes for communication.

I mostly use the desktop PC that I own to send in these pieces and to apply for jobs. I do on rare occasion make some gift purchases and travel arrangements, all through reputable and well known sites. I don't do Facebook, don't have a smartphone, which is probably smarter than I am, and consider the increasing dependence on computers and their evil offspring to be the bane of modern man's existence.


An example of the unintended consequences of the increased casualness with which many of us use these infernal machines is the use by those with nefarious intent who try to get our personal information in order to steal from us.

Recently I was the target of some sleazeballs who were trying to get my personal information. Someone or several someones posing as a well known and quite reputable e-commerce company contacted me. Two emails were purportedly confirming orders that I had supposedly made with the company and asked for me to click on a link and fill out my information. Since I have never done any business with that company I immediately considered the possibility that the crooks had already gotten my information and purchased items.

A short time later a third email appeared in the inbox. This one was from someone supposedly from a financial institution with which I do some business with a warning of something to do with security. I was again suspicious since I don't do such business via the computer because I am not really sure how secure such connections are.

After considering some options, which included just deleting the junk, I searched for the customer service contact information for the retailer online. The site only asked to confirm my email address and asked if I wished to have someone phone me or continue via the computer. I chose to have a representative call and submitted my number.

Almost as soon as I hit send, my phone was ringing with a real person on the other end who wanted to know what the problem was. After a short explanation the service person told me to delete the original emails but to forward them to their fraud investigators first and provided me with the forwarding address. To contact the financial institution, I called the customer service number from my monthly statement. The representative there gave me the same instructions and also provided a forwarding address to send the questionable communication to. Both customer service folks were quite helpful and reassuring that since I hadn't clicked on the links provided in the bogus emails I should be safe.

Everyone, and especially those in my over-65 age group, needs to be less trusting of what comes over the Internet and only click on links from folks you know. One thing is to carefully read the sender information on any questionable emails. That will give you a good clue as to the message's legitimacy. Then look up the real email customer service address or phone number and for the organization or company supposedly asking for your information.

Legitimate companies are eager to help folks like me who have received suspicious emails and have people whose job it is to investigate these reports. Be aware and don't become a victim.