COLORADO SPRINGS - Ever get a random email from an account you've never seen?
Most of us have, and most of the time, they're from scammers trying to find a way to pry into our lives.
The bad news: email scams are constantly changing, so you have to be cautious.
It's not out of the ordinary for Kim Wolinski, owner of Old Town Guesthouse, to get close to 20 emails a day.
Mostly they are from people interested in making reservations, but lately, she's been getting some suspicious interests.
"This is an official email from the Vatican, and we have people from the Vatican needing to stay. And what would the cost be from this date to this date," Wolinski explains of the emails she’s been getting.
This is a perfect example of what's called a phishing scam.
"Phishing" is the hacker term for describing how scammers convince their victims to reveal personal information, so they can sell it to other hackers.
As Detective John Price explains, phishing scams are the most common way for scammers to 'hook' onto their victims.
"Phishing scams can take on many different phases whether there's a problem with your finances, there's a problem with your computer, you've won something and we just need a little bit of information to get you your prize,
said Det. Jon Price, with the El Paso County Sheriff's Office. "They take on many different forms, but they're all basically the same scam," he said.
Most of the time it is the same scam but with different words.
"Literally saying just give us your account number, we'll take care of it," said Wolinski.
Wolinski got another email, known as the "Nigerian scam", from a similar Gmail account.
"They're asking for money. And somebody had a problem in their family, and their daughter is in the state and can't get married. It's like $10,000. I just can't believe that people must be falling for it, for them to keep doing it," she said.
Scammers will always keep advancing these emails to seem legitimate. That's why Detective Price says you have to protect yourself.
Another example of a phishing example is an email that includes a hyperlink.
According to a 2013 study: Some hyperlinks that start with "http://" may lead you to a fake site. Whereas, some url's that start with "https://" are usually legitimate. It's important to note that there are some sites that have "http://" and aren't fake, however it is something you can look for if you're trying to test if a site is real or not.
For Wolinski, no email is safe unless she knows the sender, but weeding through the rest will take a watchful eye and a careful click.
If you receive emails that are part of a phishing scam or even seem suspicious, you should report them to the El Paso County Sheriff's Office or online to the Federal Trade Commission.
What can you do to protect yourself for any scam?
1. Email Scams: If you receive an email that is threatening or fraudulent report it to your local police or sheriff's department.
2. Pop-up Scams: Report these messages directly to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org.
3. Bank Scams: Report immediately to the Internet Crime Complaint Center
4. Arrest Warrant Scams impersonating a law enforcement officer: report it immediately to the El Paso County Sheriff's Department or the city's Fraud Prevention and Detection Policy Division.
5. If you get a "scam" email you can create a spam folder in your email to store all of them. Or you can also go to your settings and automatically block future emails from that account.
What are the top email scams in Southern Colorado?
Data from the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado