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By Bruce Sussman
Sun | Mar 4, 2018 | 6:40 AM PST

How can you tell if a message from "Apple" requesting information is really from Apple, iTunes, Apple Music, or the Apple App Store?

These days, phishing emails look so real it is hard to tell if what we see in our inbox is true or not. And there are scammers around the world trying to get you to enter your personal information so they can take advantage of it. 

In fact, I often get phone calls from my in-laws that start something like this: "Hi Bruce, I got this email and it says I need to update my account information by entering my credit card...."

That call typically ends with me telling them to not do anything or click on anything until I have a chance to see the email myself. So far, the ones they've asked me about have been about 50% fake and 50% real.

New Apple tips on spotting fake Apple emails and where to safely enter information

Fortunately, Apple has released ways to tell if a message is really from the company. And more importantly, Apple has new tips on when and how you should be willing to give them your personal information.

For starters, Apple says there are some things it will never ask for in an email.

Emails about your App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or Apple Music purchases will never ask you to provide the following through an email: 

  • Social Security number
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Full credit card number
  • Credit card CCV code

How can I safely update my Apple account?

Apple says there is only one truly safe way to enter your account information if you get an email about it: ignore the email and go to your device itself.

"If you receive an email asking you to update your account or payment information, only do so in Settings directly on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch; in iTunes or the App Store on your Mac; or in iTunes on a PC."

And the same thing applies if you get an email asking you to update your Apple password:

"To update your password for the Apple ID that you use for purchases, do so only in Settings on your device or at appleid.apple.com."

How to tell if an Apple receipt email is really from Apple

And there's one more thing: Those receipts you get from the iTunes or App Store, how can you tell if they are real? Apple's new guidelines put it like this:

"Genuine purchase receipts—from purchases in the App Store, iTunes Store, iBooks Store, or Apple Music—include your current billing address, which scammers are unlikely to have."

How to report an Apple phishing email

Apple would like you to tell them about Apple related phishing emails.

To report a fake Apple email, forward it to reportphishing@apple.com. If you're on a Mac, select the email and choose Forward As Attachment from the Message menu.

Hopefully these tips will help you, your family, and your devices stay secure in this digital age we are living in.

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