With news breaking that 53 million email addresses were stolen from Home Depot, the company has started reaching out to affected customers. And, despite the best intentions, that means it's also a dangerous time for you.
Scammers love the period just after a data breach because there's plenty of confusion. They can send out fake email claiming to be from the hacked company and plenty of people will click on links and download the scammer's attachments that can cause big trouble.
So naturally, when an email from Home Depot showed up in my inbox in September, I was understandably cautious, but that email proved to be real.
Then, just this morning, I received another email claiming to be from Home Depot, but it is actually legitimate?
Here's what the email looks like:
Subject: Notice to Our Customers from The Home Depot
Dear Valued Customer,
The Home Depot has discovered that a file containing your email address may have been taken during the payment card breach we announced in September. The file contained email addresses, but it did not contain passwords, payment card information, or other sensitive personal information. We apologize for this incident and for the inconvenience and frustration this may cause you.
In all likelihood this event will not impact you, but we recommend that you be on the alert for phony emails requesting personal or sensitive information. If you have any questions or would like additional information on how to protect yourself from email scams, please visit our website or call 1-800-HOMEDEPOT.
Again, we apologize for the frustration and inconvenience this incident may have caused. Thank you for your continued support.
The Home Depot
Please do not reply to this email. To contact us call 1-800-HOMEDEPOT, or contact us at The Home Depot, Attn: Privacy Official, 2455 Paces Ferry Road, N.W., Atlanta, GA 30339-4024, USA.
How do you know it's real? Well, first of all, it comes from "email.homedepot.com," which is the real Home Depot address.
Second, it's well-written and has the correct logo. Fake email usually has formatting or writing mistakes that no large corporation would allow to be sent out in an official email message.
The biggest tell, though, is that it doesn't contain any links or email attachments. It just tells you to go to Home Depot's site for more information and gives you Home Depot's customer service number to call.
That's exactly what you should expect from a company sending this kind of email. There's no possibility that scammers are trying to trick you - unless the phone number is fake, and you can double-check that on Home Depot's site very quickly.
If an email like this does ever contain links or an email attachment, then it's more likely to be a scam. You always want to open your browser and visit the company website yourself, or call its customer service line. That way, there's no way for scammers to trick you.