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Watch Out for the Latest Email Scam of the Day

How to recognize the ones that target you

Email scams are typically low-value, high-volume crimes. The cost to a given consumer is comparatively low, but large numbers of victims mean that the money quickly adds up for the criminals behind the scam.

One of the ways consumers trip up relates to the relevancy of the scam's topic. Email scammers are smart about making their scams look current because people are much more likely to fall for scams related to topics already on their minds.

For example, Valentine scams circulate around Valentine's Day. Last year, a Valentine scammer emailed messages with titles including "In your arms," "Sending you all my love," "I love you because ..." and so on. These have short messages and links your are encouraged to click. Clicking the links downloads malicious software onto your computer.

The subject lines of email scams morph constantly; there were at least 50 titles in circulation in 2008 alone.

Also, around any holiday, be on the lookout for email messages offering "great deals" on flowers, chocolates, dinners and so on. If you aren't sure that a store is reputable, don't go there.

When you're in tax season, tax-related scams abound, including scams about being audited, getting tax rebates or offering tax-filing assistance.

And the list goes on. There's literally a scam for every occasion.

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