Email Scams – 8 Ways To Avoid Them!
Spam emails make up approximately 45% of all emails every day, that’s 14.5 billion messages (spamlaws). This means it’s a large issue for almost all internet users, business and personal.
Below we will go over the best tips for picking out those pesky emails so you can best protect yourself and your business. The biggest key to defeating spam emails are education of users, you can have the best spam filter in the world but it’s not guaranteed to block all scam emails without blocking legitimate emails.
1. Don’t Trust The Display Name
Email addresses can be ‘spoofed’ and what I mean by that is they can be altered to make it appear like they have come from a legitimate source even though it has come from the scammer. The email address might even appear to be exactly the same!
For example, look at the below from address in a scam email we received;
The email appears at first to be a legitimate email from a Xero email address but they have actually spoofed Xero’s domain and the actual email is from email@example.com.
2. Hover Over Links Within The Email
A key part of scammers emails are malicious links within emails. Often, they will make it appear like a legitimate link, maybe it has the correct logo or the wording is exactly the same as NAB’s for instance but the link will very often redirect to site where the criminals can capture your data. Sometimes there is only very small differences in the URL address of the fake links compared to the real link.
Have a look at the below example taken from the same scam email as shown above;
When I hovered over the INV-7309009 link it shows clearly that it doesn’t go to a Xero address but this unknown aetherworkbooks address. A standard rule to follow is if you don’t recognise the link’s address don’t click it.
3. Email Is Not Personalised
The salutation of the email can often be a giveaway, scam emails a majority of the time will not address the recipient personally (as the are sent in bulk by nature) and will say something similar to “Dear Client” or “Dear Valued Customer”.
4. Grammar Mistakes
Email scammers are getting better at these mistakes but its an easy way for us to pick out a good chunk of illegitimate emails. Often these scammers don’t have a native English language so their vetting process of emails isn’t great. Remember these scam emails can come from organised groups too, so they can also be quite close to the real thing.
5. Sense Of Urgency
Scammer like to use a fear tactics where they make you think you are in immediate danger, for example a particular software has expired or your Microsoft account has been hacked. This aims to make you act irrationally without thinking through the situation and follow the scammer’s requests to resolve the issue quickly.
6. Time The Email Was Sent
Ever notice how you receive a lot of junk mail at night? Well this is a key sign the email isn’t legitimate, how many contacts do you know that would email you at 4am in the morning? 2 out of the 3 biggest country spam sources are the United States and Russia (Spamhaus), obviously being in completely different time zones to Australia.
7. Asking For Personal Information
This might seem like an obvious point but many people continue to get tricked into giving their details to strangers claiming to ‘help’. Remember legitimate companies will never ask for your personal data over email and even if it looks like a trusted organisation like the NAB or Government you should never give personal information out. If the scammer doesn’t use your personal details you give them, they will often sell your details on the black market for other illegitimate organisations to pickup and abuse.
8. The Sender Doesn’t Know The Addressee
One of the key things to think about with any suspicious email whether it be yourself or someone you know; is whether the recipient is expecting and email from this person and/ or do they know the sender’s address? So many scam emails can be eliminated by simply asking yourself that question. Although this doesn’t cover all bases and as mentioned above email addresses can be spoofed to make it look like an address you know, it still gives you a good starting point and gets you in the frame of mind to question these scam emails.
All of these tips can be followed quite easily by anyone, and honestly the biggest hurdle to continually beating scammers is awareness and education which I hope this article has provided!