You open your email and see a message from an unknown sender. They claim to have compromising photos or videos of you and threaten to release them to your friends and family unless you pay them money. Providing no evidence of the threat and you have no idea who they are. This scary situation is known as email sextortion, and it’s a growing problem in the new age of the internet. Here’s what you need to know about how to respond to email sextortion and how to protect yourself.
Are Sextortion Emails Common?
Email sextortion usually involves the sender claiming they have access to the victim’s webcam/passwords/etc. or private and explicit information on you. Email threats like these are meant to prey on our most basic psychological instincts. Having read their generic email threat, you will start relating it to your interpersonal relationships. You could end up paying even if you haven’t done anything! Furthermore, they play on the power of shame. These emails often do not have any basis in reality. Most of the time, they threaten the recipient with vague information, forcing them to fill in the blanks on their own. Scammers are known to send hundreds of these emails out using multiple accounts so they can’t be tracked. Email sextortion is as common as the everyday spam emails you receive.
What to do if you receive a Sextortion Email?
If you receive such an email, the best thing to do is not panic. Take a deep breath and try to assess the situation calmly. Here are some steps you can take:
- Check to see if the email address is registered with any websites you use. If it’s not, that’s a good sign that the person who sent the email may not have any compromising material on you.
- You can try searching for the exact message text online. You may find that other people have received similar emails and that there is no reason to be concerned.
- Do not respond or engage with them in any way.
- If you’re certain that the email is legitimate, contact your local law enforcement agency and file a report. Also, report the email to the FBI’S crime complaint center.
What Happens if you Respond to it?
If you respond to email sextortion you could be opening up your email to a realm of problems. It will put you on scammers’ radars and make you vulnerable. Once you reply to a sextortion email, they can then sell your email address to other scammers because they will now know your email is active. You could accidentally leak your personal information just by responding! If you receive an email sextortion attempt, do not respond and do not pay the ransom. Instead, follow these tips below.
- Report the email to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) at www.ic3.gov and report it in your inbox and delete it. The best response is no response.
- You should also run a virus scan on your computer using reliable anti-virus software to be sure that your device has not been infected with malware by the scammer.
- Finally, change any passwords that may have been included in the sextortion email so that the scammer can no longer access your accounts.
Email sextortion is a serious problem, but if you follow these steps outlined in the blog post you will protect yourself. If you receive such an email, don’t panic and don’t respond. If you’re certain that the email is legitimate, contact Digital Investigation right away! If you need help with sextortion emails, please feel free to contact our sextortion helpline. We are ready to help you with expert advice & Services 24/7. We hope, that now you understand How to stop sextortion email.