Question: Was I hacked if someone got a phishing email that appeared to be from me?

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Answer:

Quite often people get phishing emails that have addresses appearing to be from someone they know. This quite often happens in groups where members get a phishing email that appears to be from the president. Or you get a notice from a bank you have never dealt with about account problems. Does this mean who it appears to come from was hacked?

There are several things to look for in emails to know whether they are fraudulent, to ignore and not do anything in them.

First, look at the return address or “From.” Often the address beside name appears, and you can see address is not correct. Other times, you just see the name. That is easy to spoof. If you are on a PC or laptop, hover over the name, and it will either pop up the address or at the bottom show the address. Do not click it. Is it the address it should be? If in doubt STOP, call the person or company (not at the number in the email but go separately to their web page or look up in phone book or on a card and confirm.

Second, if there are any links in the email, you can check them by hovering and seeing what it is. The name right after http: or https: is what you are looking for. Sometimes at the end of the link as name of page on the fraudulent website they make a page with that name. Does it look right? If not, do as state above with return address or “From.”

Third, were you expecting this email or is it something that sounds right? Are the spelling and grammar as you expect? Can they spell the company name right? All of these are indicators of phishing.

Anyone can fake your name in too when sending out emails, and they do not need your account to do that. So, they almost definitely did not hack your account, they found an email or a list on the web, where you are in a group and they simply used that list. There is no requirement on non-business run accounts what is in "from.” Many businesses do not give employees access to the computer directory where their name is to modify it, but on personal devices, you can change it.

If you are reading the email on a phone or tablet, I have been told you can move the cursor or marker over the address or link and actual address appears, but do not release or you go there. However, I have not tried yet. If you see an email with questions in your mind on your phone, stop. Call the person or organization and verify or get on laptop or PC and check.

Send me your questions about computers to my e-mail dwight@dwightwatt.com and tell me you read this in this paper. I will pick a question to answer each week.

Watt does computer work for businesses, individuals and organizations and teaches about computers at a technical college in northwest Georgia. His webpage is www.dwightwatt.com.

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