26 Jun How to Spot a Spam, Scam, and Fake Email.
How to Spot a Spam, Scam, and Fake Email.
From YMG – The Award-Winning Digital Marketing Agency in Chelmsford, Essex.
Nobody likes spam emails. Nobody likes scam emails. And nobody likes phishing emails.
Sadly, it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to spot these emails. Sometimes they can be pretty convincing. And sadly, falling victim to some of these emails can lead some bad, irreversible results. Because of this, it’s important to be able to recognise a spam, scam, or phishing email.
Before we start, it’s important to understand that these types of emails are always evolving. Because of this, even experts and experienced business owners fall for online scams. So, it’s impossible for anybody to say they can teach you to never fall for these hoaxes. However, the more informed you are about their practices and how you can avoid them, the better.
Spam (Junk) Emails.
Spam or junk emails can often contain viruses and worse. They can often also contain offensive or irrelevant material, such as adult websites or hoax virus warnings. The most commonly used types of spam or junk emails are themed around healthcare or dating.
Thankfully, spam or junk emails are often very easy to spot. With many email services including inbuilt spam/junk filters. But these are not full-proof and can still allow some through into your inbox.
A good place to start is a simple one. If it looks or sounds like spam from the name of the sender or subject, it probably is. Any subject lines that lOOK lIKE tHIS or Us3 Numb3r5 1n Th3 T3xt cannot be trusted. Furthermore, if it’s from an email address you don’t recognise or contains a subject you’re not familiar with, then be wary. Some sophisticated emails can implement viruses simply by opening them.
What to Look For:
- Unspecific recipient. E.G. ‘Hello’, ‘Hi [Your Business]’, ‘Sir’ or ‘Madam’.
- Sent from a personal or unrecognised account. E.G. @gmail.com, @yahoo.com.
- Commercial. Selling or promoting something.
- Bulk sent and not personalised to you or your business.
Scam or phishing emails can be harder to identify then spam emails. These (although not limited to just emails) are when the sender intends on luring the victim into providing them with personal details or money.
These emails can take a variety of forms. From impersonating real businesses and banks to faking an emergency, phishing emails try to trick the recipient. Usually for money or personal information. The tricky thing with these emails is that they can often be very convincing.
Banks will never email you telling you to move your money or send money elsewhere.
Of course, some scam/phishing emails are hilariously bad. I once received an email from an estranged uncle apparently emailing me from a misspelled African country. He claimed he had a large estate that he was looking to bring to ‘my country’. He told me that if I emailed him the fees (for what exactly he didn’t specify) that I could have half of his estate – a very generous offer. However, it was when he asked for a few thousand euros that my suspicions arose, so I left my estranged uncle to explore other routes.
In all seriousness, any emails of this nature should not be trusted. No matter how serious of comical they sound.
Likewise, with any that sound as though they’re from an official business, company, person or bank. If you have any concerns or queries, find their official website and contact number. Some even offer a specific number to contact if you believe you’ve encountered fraudulent activity.
Like with spam emails, checking simple things such as the sender’s email or spelling can be another indicator. This is not a sure-fire way of checking but can often weed out some of the fakes from the real. Especially if the email does not match the company name, subject, or contents. If MyName@FakeEmail.de is emailing you about your overdraft limit, chances are it’s fake.
What to Look For:
- Seeking personal details, information, or money.
- Often professional looking.
- Imitate real businesses, companies, or banks.
- Link to a fake website with a convincing URL.
As long as emails exist, so will scams, spams, and the bad people behind them. So, for a long as emails exist, it’s important to remain vigilant when checking your inbox. Online fraudsters will exist until the internet and online businesses are a thing of the past. The people behind these emails are always changing their approach to try and dupe people like you and me. Making them look even more professional and convincing. But, no matter how much your estranged uncle from the misspelled African country wants to share his estate, think twice before replying.
If you think you’ve spotted spam, scam or phishing email, contact the relevant people before either deleting or replying to it.
YMG are an award-winning and full-service digital marketing agency based in Chelmsford, Essex, and home of the Jargon Buster series, helping business owners to understand the technical terms of digital marketing.