Sending and receiving e-mail
|On This Page|
E-mail is shorthand for the term electronic mail and people use it to get and send messages and attachments like photos, music, or videos. Unfortunately, e-mail’s usefulness is under attack because of spam and spam scams (also known as phishing).
Read on to find out how to defend yourself against some of the hazards of e-mail.
Ten safety tips for sending and receiving e-mail
- Choose a safe e-mail address that doesn’t give away personal information.
- Pick one that doesn’t help identify or locate you. For example, SusieDoe_14_small_town@google.com.au reveals enough for someone to find Susie-her name, age, and small town in Australia.
- Avoid using flirtatious names like “2sexy4U” or “I_like_handcuffs” which may cause unwanted attention and expose you to greater risk.
- Make sure your full name is not exposed by your e-mail service and, therefore, on e-mail messages you send. .
- Don’t share sensitive personal information in e-mail.
- Never share passwords, social security number, credit card information, and the like.
- Pay attention if you use an automatic e-mail signature. This is a handy feature for friends because it typically provides your full name, address, and phone numbers. But if it’s inserted automatically in all your e-mail responses, you might unwittingly reveal more information than you intended with people you don’t know.
- Consider who you want to e-mail with. Remember: a friend of a friend is a stranger.
Some people only want to send or receive e-mail with close friends and family; others use it much more openly. Decide what you are comfortable with and set appropriate limits. Remember, just because someone sends you an e-mail doesn’t mean you need to receive it. Block messages from specific senders, or restrict your e-mail from anyone not specifically on your contact list.
- Think twice before you open attachments or click links in e-mail-even if you know the sender.
Sending photos, documents, and links in e-mail is an easy and convenient way to share with others, but the bad guys can use these to slip spam and viruses onto your computer.
- If you don’t know the sender, delete the message; if you do know the sender, double-check that an attachment or link is safe to open. If you can’t confirm, your best bet is delete the message.
- If anyone sends you inappropriate material, report it. Don’t shut down the computer; instead turn off the monitor and walk away. Tell your parents, your ISP, and the police, if appropriate.
- Don’t be fooled by phishing.
Be very skeptical if you receive an e-mail that looks like it is from your bank, broker, or other trusted company but asks you to verify or re-enter sensitive personal or financial information through e-mail, a Web site they direct you to, or a phone number they provide. It is quite likely a scam. It’s better to type in your own link to the bank or company or look up the phone number yourself.Phishing scams that are trying to trick you into divulging sensitive personal information can come in many guises—you’ve won the lottery, you’ve been selected to receive something free, and the like.
- Avoid typing sensitive information into a public computer.
This includes your name and phone numbers, account numbers and passwords, or home or e-mail addresses. An industrious thief might install a kind of spyware that records your every keystroke for the crook. Never select the feature that automatically logs you on to e-mail when you start the computer, or accept a “Remember My Password” option.
- Be cautious about meeting in person someone you know only through e-mail.
Everything someone tells you about themselves and their motivation for meeting you may be completely true – or none of it could be. They may feel like a close friend, but they are still a stranger. If you decide to meet someone, never go alone make sure others know where you’re going, and have your cell phone handy.
- Consider what you’re saying and sharing in e-mail and how you would feel if the information was shared.
Anything you say in e-mail can be forwarded to others – or perhaps monitored by your employer.
- Report harassment or bullying.
As in real life, this is unacceptable behavior and in some cases can be illegal. Report harassment or abuse to your service provider. (Every service should have a clearly visible Report Abuse function; if it doesn’t consider switching providers.)
- Help protect children using e-mail.
- For younger children, use a service that allows you to limit your child’s contacts (so they can only e-mail people you both know) and allows you to monitor who they’re talking to.
- With teens, have a discussion about who they communicate with and what they talk about. Set boundaries that match your family’s values and their age, reassessing these boundaries periodically as they mature. Caution them not to list their e-mail addresses publicly , or respond to e-mail from strangers; if they wouldn’t tell the person their street address, they may well not want to give their online address.
Sending e-mail safely to a group
Any time you send or forward e-mail to a group of people who don’t know each other, the correct etiquette is to put everyone’s e-mail addresses on the Bcc (or Blind Carbon Copy) line. This has the advantage of making your message look as if it were sent to each person individually. But more importantly, it protects your friends’ e-mail addresses from spammers and keeps their e-mail address private from everyone else on the list.
Finding the Bcc: Line
Every e-mail program has a Bcc: option.
Search in your e-mail program’s Help if you can’t find it readily.
Example: In Windows Live Hotmail, to display
the Bcc: (and Cc:) line, click Show Cc &Bcc in an e-mail
message (as shown below).
You may also want to include a message like the one below at the bottom of your e-mail messages as a reminder:
Note: To help protect
my privacy, please do not expose my e-mail address to others. If you’re
sending e-mail to a group of people that includes me, please put my
e-mail address on the Bcc: line only.
How crooks use exposed e-mail addresses
If you are forwarding an e-mail with a cute thought, picture, survey, or something similar, ask yourself what motivated the original sender? Criminals specifically start many such e-mail threads because they know people will forward them — and they have embedded a piece of code that essentially works like a hidden Bcc line so that the thread including all the e-mail addresses automatically come to them for harvesting.
In the past, criminals were just after e-mail addresses for their own use or to sell to other spammers. But now criminals also use this tactic to map your social networks. Using automation, they send spam to you and a couple of others in your social network. We are more likely to fall for a scam if a friend or family member is also on the “To:” line because it seems more legitimate. (It’s also possible that your spam filter is less likely to catch junk mail when it is addressed to more than one person.)
Keeping your full name from showing up in e-mail
Before you follow the directions below, make sure that you send e-mail to all of your friends and tell them what your new e-mail name will be. Otherwise they won’t recognize your new name and might delete your messages, thinking you’re a spammer.
Find out how to do hide your full name for these e-mail programs:
Scroll down to see an illustration of these steps.
- In MSN, at the top of your screen, click Help and Settings.
- Click Settings on the list that drops down.
- On the left, click Personal information.
- Under Personal Information settings, click Windows Live ID information.
- Change the information in the first and last name fields.
Pick a name (like your first name) that doesn’t expose your identity or leave it blank. You can use of any alphanumeric character (A-Z; 0-9) and any of the special characters on your keyboard except for : < > ; ( ) ” $ !
- Once done, click Save, and sign out of MSN.
- Go to www.hotmail.com, and sign in to refresh your account information.It may take 5 to 10 minutes for the changes to take effect.
Scroll down to see an illustration of these steps.
- At the top right of your screen, click Options.
- Click More options at the bottom of the list.(Note: If you’re using the classic version of Windows Live Hotmail, you will automatically be redirected to the Options page after clicking the Options button).
- Under Manage your account, click View and edit your personal information.(Note: If you’re asked to provide your password, type your password, and then click Sign in.)
- Click Settings on the left side of the page.
- Click Registered information under your name and e-mail address.
- Change the First name and Last name.Pick a name (like your first name) that doesn’t expose your identity or leave it blank. You can use of any alphanumeric character (A-Z; 0-9) and any of the special characters on your keyboard except for : < > ; ( ) ” $ !
- Click Save at the bottom of the page to save your changes.
- Click Mail Classic to switch to Classic View. If you don’t see this, skip to Step 2.
You can’t hide your real name if you’re using new Yahoo! Mail.
- Click Options (red dot #1) in the upper right hand corner , and then click General Preferences (red dot #2).
- Erase your name from the From name field. Replace it with a name (like your first name or a nickname) that doesn’t expose your identity. (Or you can leave the box blank.).You can use of any alphanumeric character (A-Z; 0-9) and any of the special characters on your keyboard except for : < > ; ( ) ” $ !
- Scroll down and click the Save button at the lower left corner of the screen. Then send yourself an email. Your full name will no longer show up.To restore Yahoo! Mail to the “new” view, click All-New Mail in the upper right corner of your screen.