How to Identify a Scam Email

August 25, 2016 9:33 am Published by

Scam emails are so common that practically everybody has received them – the consequences of falling for these scams can be dire and cost you the contents of your bank account or even more.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways that you can check whether the email you receive is a scam. It’s important to check these even if the email looks genuine, as scammers are becoming more skilled faking legitimate emails and gaining the information they’re looking for.

Your Email Checklist

When you receive an email, be sure to look at:

  • Spelling and grammar – most scam emails are easily identifiable from the poor spelling and grammar.
  • Who it’s from – check both the name and the email address. If it’s from you but you haven’t sent yourself any emails it’s almost guaranteed to be a scam. The email may look like it’s from a large company (such as Apple or PayPal) or even from your bank, so be sure to check the email address as well. While the name of the sender may look legitimate, the email address is often from a completely different website so you can tell it’s fraudulent.
  • Where the links go – a lot of scam emails lead to a fake log in page. This is so that the scammers can steal your log in information and use it themselves. On a desktop, you can hover your cursor over the link without clicking on it to see where it leads – again, it will not lead to the official site.
  • Attachments – other scam emails contain attachments with viruses that affect your computer when you download. Never open any .exe files in emails, and if you do not know the sender never download any attachments at all.
  • What they’re asking for – older scam emails request money to help relatives or in case of a medical emergency. They may even come from a friend’s email address if a scammer has managed to take control of it. Never respond or send money unless you can independently verify that it is your friend or family member.
  • Whether it’s realistic – other scammers offer lottery wins and prizes in order to gain information or even just identify email addresses that may fall for other scams. If you have not entered any prize draws or have not bought a lottery ticket, do not respond to these emails.

If you are unsure about whether an email is genuine, it is best to delete/report the email itself and independently log into your bank account, PayPal account, or National Lottery account to check. Never click on the links within the email, as these may not lead to the official websites and could compromise your information.

It is also important not to respond to the emails in any way. Once scammers have identified an email address as being susceptible to their techniques, they will bombard it with yet more emails and even sell the email address to other scammers.

If you have any concerns about downloading viruses or receiving large volumes of scam emails, please get in touch.

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This post was written by Innermedia Ltd