Originally posted April 1, 2008. As scams have only become more insidious, I thought it was prudent to repost this blog.

April-Fools-DayIt’s April Fool’s Day and I thought it would be appropriate to talk about two topics I get asked about on a daily basis: How do I avoid spam? and How do I avoid scams? The reality of being connected to the Internet, whether or not you are entering online promotions, is that you must protect yourself and your computer. I feel it is so important, I have dedicated an entire chapter to each subject in my book along with having an entire list of resources online.

How to Avoid Spam
1) Use an email address dedicated for your hobby. You can either add one to your current Internet account or use a free one such as Yahoo, or Gmail.

2) Have a good spam filter. I use Avast to protect my whole computer and phone.

How to Avoid Scams
1) Never pay money to receive a prize, ever!

2) You will remember the information from a legitimate sweepstakes notification such as: the promotion name, the sponsor, the prizes, etc… and all that information is easily verifiable on the Internet either on the company’s website directly or a sweepstakes website.

3) Scam emails will be very vague, usually have spelling errors and will probably ask for confidential information such as bank account numbers. You can also check sites like Hoax-Slayer to see if the scam has been reported to them.

4) Using a good spam filter will automatically dump most of the scam emails into your spam folder so you don’t even need to address them.

I think entering sweepstakes is the best hobby in the world because you never know what the next email, letter or phone call will hold. It could be a CD, a gift basket, an exotic trip or even a car!

So, play safe and have fun.