Both spam and phishing are methods utilized by identity theft criminals, hackers and fraudsters, and are carried out over the email system.
Spam is the term used to describe those emails that are sent to you from unsolicited sources, basically like the junk mail that comes through your door, and has a number of purposes including:
o Advertising goods and services – these may or may not be genuine, and you should never buy anything through an unsolicited email, as there is a high risk that you will receive nothing at all once you have paid, or the goods/services you do receive will be not as described and very poor quality. Many spam emails will offer people ‘amazing’ but completely fake deals on things like miracle products and even shares and stocks, and the maxim ‘if it sounds too good to be true it usually is’ can be applied in most cases of spam mail.
o Emails can also be used as a way for malicious programs to infiltrate your computer such as viruses, spyware, Adware and Trojans. These can seriously affect the performance and security of your computer, and are usually transferred via an contaminated attachment, which once opened infects your computer. Once your computer has been infected with malware it can be difficult to erase it and set your computer to rights again, so make sure you never open an attachment to an unsolicited email, and be very careful about opening attachments from sources you do recognize.
Phishing is a technique that thieves and fraudsters use to try and trick you into revealing your sensitive bank account and credit card information, and can be carried out over telephone, by post or by spam. There are a number of methods used to try to obtain personal information from victims such by sending out fake account detail requests. Thieves can create very authentic looking emails that trick you into believing their requests for account information and online banking log in details are from legitimate providers, but once you have sent the info they can use it to hack into your accounts and steal your money.