Protect yourself from phishing & email cons

As you travel, you’re going to be relying on email and online services more than ever.  So you need to be more careful than ever. 

When you’re home on your home computer, you might be careful about checking for fraud.

BUT…it’s harder when you’re on a new computer, new computer system, etc each day, so be sure to put this into practice:

You’re going to get emails that say:

  • log into your bank account to verify your info
  • log into your bank account to because someone tried to log in as you
  • click this link because we’ve been trying to reach you
  • etc

And now that you’re traveling, these things seem more viable. Maybe you did leave your password in a browser somewhere? Maybe you did get seen entering info? 

You can’t afford to just ignore those questionable emails. So what should you do?

Option 1
Log into your bank or store account to check out the situation — but NEVER click the link that’s given in that email or text! Start a new browser window, go to the URL you know to be correct for that bank or store, and log in. If they’re trying to get in touch with you, there will be a message awaiting in the message center on that site.

Option 2
Phone the number on the back of your credit card. (If the company is in the US or Canada and you’re out of the country, you’ll love Vonage Mobile app or MagicJack’s mobile app for this. Vonage is free to the US and Canada as I write this.)

Option 3
If you are on a mobile device and don’t wish to go through the login (option1) at least check the URL before clicking it. What you see in the fancy-looking HTML email is only what the sender wants you to see. The actual URL is hidden in the code.

  • Link-in-iPhone

    The dialog that appears when you press and hold on a link on the iPad or iPhone. The actual link is covered up by this dialog, but see the true URL and the options.

    To see the actual link destination on iOS, touch the link but don’t lift your finger. Just wait a moment and a dialog will appear.At the top it will show the true link. Now you have the option to click Open if you’re certain it’s legitimate. (Look very closely, please.) Or, click Cancel and there’s been no harm done.[About Los Angeles Travel is a good site and I love getting Kayte’s emails – just for the record. The emails are just partly URL-tracking coded.]

  • It’s not as easy to see the actual link on Android. You can copy the URL by pressing and holding until Copy URL pop’s up, then paste that URL into an app that accepts text (such as a blank email) to see it.
  • To see the actual link destination on Mac, using — hover your mouse over the URL and look at the info in the floating “tool tip” window.

    Hovering over an email in Apple's Mail app.

    Hovering over a link in an email in Apple’s Mail app.

  • To see the actual link destination on Windows  — sorry, I don’t have this right now, but find out.

One problem with checking the actual URLs:
Sadly, many companies are using email services nowadays, so the URLs in their newsletters are a horrible mess of letters and numbers. They may be a legitimate super-great cause, but I’m not about to risk clicking their links and I hope you don’t either. Instead, we can go to the cause’s website and hopefully they’ve put a link to that newsletter on their front page.

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