Consumer Alert: How to avoid possible phishing emails

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Jamal Mosakheil is working on his PHD in computer science at the University of Memphis.

To say he's tech savvy would be an understatement.

He showed me several apps he uses to make free calls and texts. He even uses them to message colleagues about projects.

"I'm an international student. I don't need to have a data plan to have international calls or texts. It would be so expensive, so it's achieved just by internet. I'm connected with my family," Mosakheil said.

But the convenience of technology sometimes comes with a cost.

One of our WREG colleagues was flooded with unsolicited emails recently, claiming to be from apps like Text Free, Text Me Up and Talk U Unlimited.

All of them asked to confirm an account, verify an email or a welcome for an account.

Our co-worker never signed up.

"If it's unsolicited and you don't know who it is, don't respond at all," Randy Hutchinson, president of the Better Business Bureau, said. "Simply clicking on an attachment or clicking on a link can download malware to  your computer. Then they can get your passwords and anything else you have on your computer."

Phishing scams are on the rise, especially with businesses. So are phishing scams, which are similar, but target consumers on their mobile devices through text messages.

"The key is don't respond. Generally they either want you to provide some personal information, or financial information, which of course they could use to commit identify theft," Hutchinson said.

It's exactly how Jamal handles any unwanted emails or messages. He advises others to do the same.

"If you are not sure about something, don't go for it."

We reached out to Google and several of the app companies to see it there had been similar reports, but we haven't heard back because of the holiday.

You can always report suspicious activity to your email provider.

G-mail has a 'last activity account feature' that shows where and when your account has been accessed.

Most apps also allow users to report problems within the apps.

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