How to spot scam emails

by 28 Feb, 2020Emails, Running a business

Scam emails are an annoyance, and they’re a dangerous one. In our inbox overloaded world, it’s easy to click a link without thinking twice, especially if the email is preying on a fear or insecurity, telling you there’s a problem with your account that needs fixing. Then in a mistake of merely seconds, you can find yourself hacked or with a virus.

Scam emails seem to have evolved over the years, and they’re getting harder and harder to recognise. Many now mimic the tone and style of the companies they claim to be from, and very effectively. I’ve seen emails claiming to be from large companies such as Apple and Amazon that look almost identical to the real emails, which might have fooled me – had they not been sent to an email address I don’t associate with those companies.

So how do you learn to spot and avoid scam emails? Here’s a few tips:

Check Which’s advice

Which have some great advice online, which you can read here: https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/how-to-spot-an-email-scam

Some of the main points they get across are:

1. Check the ‘from’ address. If it looks fake, it probably is.

2. Check the personal information they give. Genuine emails will probably use your full name, as well as provide specific details about you, such as a customer number.

3. Are they trying to rush you into something? Take time to check, don’t get pressured into taking action that might compromise your security.

4. If an email is asking your to confirm personal or bank details out of the blue, it is probably a scam.

5. Poor spelling, grammar or presentation? Probably a scam.

Learn what an official email looks like

Many large companies now state somewhere on their website how to tell whether an email is genuinely from them. If you’re not sure, do a bit of research and see if you can find the official guidelines for spotting the real deal.

Here are a few large companies you might get emails from, explaining how to spot a genuine email from them:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201489210

Ionos: https://www.ionos.co.uk/help/web-security/email-security/recognising-a-real-11-ionos-email/

Apple: https://support.apple.com/en-gb/HT204759

Paypalhttps://www.paypal.com/uk/smarthelp/article/how-can-i-tell-if-an-email-is-genuinely-from-paypal-faq2061

Play it safe

I’m all for risk-taking, but when it comes to online security? Play it safe.

I have a rule to never – and I mean NEVER – click a link in an email that’s sent from any company holding personal or financial information on me. A lot of companies, banks especially, don’t actually send links to click when you need to take action on something in your account. Instead they send a message simply telling you to log into your account to resolve the problem.

Even if you’re almost certain an email is actually from the company they say they’re from, I STILL suggest you don’t click links if you’re given them. Instead, open a browser and log on to your account of your own volition, using your normal method. If there are issues that do indeed need addressing, you should find notifications somewhere in your account.

I follow this method even when I know that an email is actually genuine, because it builds up a practice of choosing to not click links.

Stay safe!

Any questions, or something you’d like to hear more about in future? Drop a comment below – I’d love to hear from you!

Photo by Shane Hauser on Unsplash

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