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The term “Spam” refers to unsolicited bulk email. It is the electronic equivalent of junk mail. Spam often contains malicious hyperlinks to target your personal information. Spam may also ask or encourage you to provide a form of payment. Luckily most modern email services provide spam filters to block these messages before you even see them.

Unfortunately, cyber criminals may still infiltrate your inbox using purchased or stolen email lists that contain your address or phone number. These types of scammers may contact you by a phone call, email, or infect your computer with malware and viruses. If you receive one of these messages, always delete the message without responding to it or opening any links.

If you do come across suspicious spam, here are a few ways to determine if it’s a phishing attempt. Pay close attention to the name of the sender and the website's URL. Malicious emails and websites may look identical to a legitimate site, but the URL may use a variation in spelling or a different domain (e.g., vs. If you are unsure whether a message's request is legitimate, try to verify it by contacting the company directly. Contact the company using information provided on an account statement, not information provided in the email.

It's important to remember that INOVA will never send you unsolicited messages asking you to provide personal or account information. If you receive a message that claims to be from INOVA, you can always contact us at (800) 826-5465 to double check and/or verify its authenticity.

Scams Most Commonly Used

Some of the most common ruses that criminals are currently using to commit identity theft include:

  • Foreign Country Lotteries. You are notified by phone, regular mail or email that you have won a lottery or sweepstakes in a foreign country. You are then asked to send funds back to pay for fees and taxes on the winnings. Do not send funds and do not deposit any checks that are supposed winnings from a lottery or sweepstakes that you don't remember entering. Be sure to take the time to research any offers you receive over the internet.
  • Craigslist Scams. You receive payment by check for more than the amount of the item you are selling and then are asked to refund the overage from your own account. In addition, Craigslist scams are also being reported involving job opportunities. The fraudulent "employer" may overpay you for your services rendered and ask for a refund in the form of a check for the overpaid difference.
  • Secret Shopper Scams. Similar to the Craigslist job opportunity scam, this illegitimate job opportunity requires you to secret shop a wire transfer service, such as Western Union, and wire funds as part of the job from your own account to your fraudulent employer.