If you receive an email announcing you've received Bitcoins, you may be at risk for a phishing scam.
Emails purporting to be from Coinbase, a San Francisco-based tech company that provides virtual "wallets" for the virtual Bitcoin currency, are the key to scammers gaining access to your data and personal information.
How can you avoid Bitcoin phishing attacks? Look for these three red flags:
1. An Email Beginning With 'Hi.'
As Slate reported on Friday, their office received a number of these Bitcoin emails which all began with "Hi," but were not addressed to anyone.
One sign of a malicious email is that it is unsolicited and has a very general subject. Phishing emails work by being sent en-masse to individuals, claiming to be from a trusted source. Although it would be mighty friendly to receive unsolicited hi's and hello's from our banks and government agencies, it's more likely that a general message like this is a phishing attempt.
2. Strange Email Addresses.
Another red flag that an email is a phishing attempt is that it came from a strange email address. Email addresses should generally match the person claiming to be the sender, but these phishing emails often have unfamiliar accounts listed as the sender.
Don't feel bad if you didn't look for this detail before, phishing attacks have even brought down The Associated Press.
3. Links to Who-Knows-Where.
This is a good practice to avoid all types of online scams: Phishing emails will often ask the recipient to "click this link" to receive information or funds. In the Coinbase Bitcoin phishing scam, the sender asks the recipient to click a link in order to receive some unclaimed amount of Bitcoins.
If you receive a link claiming to be from a person or entity you trust, contact that person first to verify the email came from that source.
Coinbase noted this security breach in January and has since updated its security to attempt to prevent future phishing attacks. But by keeping alert to these three red flags, you should be prepared.