I got a phishing email that tried to blackmail me – what should I do?
This is generally known either as “webcam blackmail” or “sextortion scam” and the email should have been diverted to your spam folder.
While it’s generally safe to ignore spam emails like this, some people will want reassurance. Random spam emails probably don’t have much success, so the would-be blackmailers have been trying to personalise their attacks in various ways. The most common ones are email spoofing, including a password, and including all or part of a phone number.
Most email services have no way of authenticating the From: and Reply to: fields in email messages, so spammers can fill these fields with anything they like. Your attacker simply made the From: address the same as the To: address, so it looked as though you had sent the email yourself. You hadn’t.
- Never click on links and attachments in emails you’re not expecting.
- The best way to deal with phishing and other spam emails is to delete them on sight. Don’t open them, don’t reply to them, don’t open any documents that may be attached to them, don’t click any links in them, don’t enter any information into websites fetched by those links, and definitely don’t send them any money.
- Also bear in mind that spam and phishing emails may include attempts to infect your computer with malware. This is why you should keep your anti-virus software and operating system up to date.
Every Report Matters – If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber crime, report it to Action Fraud.