10 Easy Ways to Spot Email Scams

The Dangers of Email Scams

Email scams continue to be a problem for both personal and professional email users for one simple reason – it’s an easy way for fraudsters to infiltrate even advanced IT security systems. Scam artists use email spam to spread viruses, commit identity theft, and even take control of entire businesses.

Here’s the top 10 ‘red flags’ that you can use to improve your email security and avoid falling prey to email-based scams:

Unknown Sender

Only open emails from senders who you are familiar with, or those who you would expect to get an email from. For example, if you suddenly start getting emails from a company you’ve never had any contact with, it could be an email scam.

ALL CAPS

Everyone knows that using all-caps is the online equivalent of shouting – it’s also a tactic used by scammers to entice you to open up a scam email.

No Subject

No subject on an email? Don’t open it – chances are good it’s an email scam.

Bad Grammar

Glaring problems with spelling and grammar can mean an email scam, as can words that contain characters (like #, @, or $) in the place of letters.

Odd Time Stamp

Unless your contacts include a number of known night-owls, you should be wary of opening emails that arrive at odd hours, especially if the sender isn’t familiar to you.

‘Link Only’ Content

If the body of the email is nothing more than a hyperlink (or hyperlinked text), don’t open the email.

Most Internet browsers let you hover your mouse cursor over linked text to reveal the hyperlink without actually opening the link. So, when in doubt, be sure to ‘preview’ every link.

Requests For Passwords

Some of the most sophisticated threats to email security that look like they’ve come from legitimate sources such as banks, e-commerce sites, and utility companies. These emails often have convincing text that explains an IT security breach has been detected, and you need to click on the embedded link to confirm your information and password. DON’T DO IT.

Unknown Attachments

Scammers often spread viruses by attaching a corrupt file to an email, and compelling the reader to open the attachment in order to gain access to important information.

High-Pressure Content

If the content of an email threatens immediate, serious consequences (such as a lawsuit or impending foreclosure on your home) you should be very, very suspicious that there’s a email scam involved.

Mismatched URLs

One good sign of email scams is mismatched URLs. Mismatched URLs means the hyperlinked sender address doesn’t match the URL that’s displayed when you hover your mouse over the address. This a strong sign the email is either a fraud or a threat to your IT security.

For More Information

While anyone can fall prey to an email scams, by learning how to spot these 10 tell-tell signs, you can reduce the chances that you’ll become a victim.

To learn more about how to protect yourself and your business against email spam, contact one of our IT security experts here at Inter-Quest, your full-service tech partner.