Scam emails have been around since the earliest days of the internet, and they’re not going away anytime soon. In fact, the opposite is true — criminals are making more scam attempts than ever before. And there’s a good reason why: despite efforts to crack down on phishing scams, the activity remains wildly profitable.
Part of their success comes down to the sophistication of their tactics, which are becoming increasingly advanced. They’re so advanced, in fact, that even historically careful internet users can be caught up in a mess.
So that’s the bad news. The good news is that, with a bit of knowledge and care, you can greatly reduce your odds of becoming a victim. In this blog, we’ll look at how to avoid scam emails. Read carefully, and then put our tips into practice. It might just save you from an extremely unpleasant experience.
It sure would be nice to be offered a life-changing sum of money just in exchange for clicking a link. But if you put your “realistic” cap on for a second, you’ll remember that it’s too good to be true. Businesses are not in the habit of giving away their hard-earned dollars at the best of times — they’re certainly not giving away their money for no reason at all.
Companies do hold competitions and giveaways, of course. But if you’re going to be a winner, then you first need to enter. If you can’t recall entering a competition, then the email announcing that you’ve won will be a scam.
It’s worthwhile adopting a sceptical mindset even if you have entered a competition. Scammers have ingenious ways of finding out who has entered giveaways and may send you an email claiming that you’ve won. In reality, all you’ve won is the chance to be scammed. In the event of a competition victory, it’s best to check the company’s social media accounts first — they should have announced the winner there. And if you still have some doubts, contact them directly to confirm that you’ve really won.
Read Thoroughly: Does It Contain Obvious Errors?
No one’s sending that corporations send emails that feature Shakespeare-worthy levels of writing. But they do take time to ensure their emails do not contain obvious grammatical, spelling, or formatting errors. The emails are professional, in other words.
If you get an email that features multiple errors, then alarm bells should ring. Scammers spend less time proofreading, and in the case of scams that originate from non-English speaking countries, they may not have a high level of English in the first place. This should come across pretty clearly in the email.
As well as grammatical errors, scammers also use words, punctuation, and other elements that professional companies would not. An email that contains any sentence that ends with more than one exclamation point (for example: click here!!!) is a red flag. Also, professional companies will only very rarely use emojis.
Finally, check the formatting. An email that uses various fonts in multiple sizes with an odd layout is more likely to be a scam.
It’s worth remembering that an email could have perfect grammar and still be a scam, however.
Check the Sender’s Email Address
There are many things that scammers can recreate almost perfectly. It’s not hard to include the real Amazon logo in an email, for instance. But there’s one thing that they can’t recreate — the email address from which the email is sent. A real Amazon email will come from an address that includes the company’s domain ([something]@amazon.com). A scam Amazon email could come from an address that looks, upon inspection, as clearly fraudulent (for example: [something]@amazooon.biz).
And ‘@amazooon.biz’ is probably being too generous. The majority of scam emails come from regular email clients, such as @gmail.com or @yahoo.com. There’s probably not a single company on the planet that would request sensitive information from you via such a generic email address. Red flag!
Be Wary of the Tone of Voice
Scammers don’t want you to think too hard about the email they’ve sent you. They just want you to take action. And to make you do that, they’ll use emotive, urgent language in a manner that an email from a reputable company would not.
A company, like your bank, for example, would not send an email for something that had to be taken care of within a few minutes. They’d call you. If you sense that an email is encouraging you to do something immediately, then resist that encouragement. If you take a calm, critical look at the email, then you'll spot signs that it's fake.
Listen To Your Browser’s Warning Signs
Web browser companies have an interest in ensuring people are safe and secure using the internet. As such, many of them — and all of the big players, such as Google Firefox and Safari — have their own in-built scam protection systems designed to steer users away from fraudulent websites.
But they won’t do all of the work for you. In many cases, you’ll need to act on the security prompt that the browser provides. For instance, your browser should tell you if the website does not have a security certificate (or it’s out of date). That should be a clear signal to hit the X button.
This system isn’t foolproof (many scam sites make it through) but when it works, be sure to use it.
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