How to spot an email scam

Email scammers are employing increasingly convincing tactics to try to get you to hand over your personal information or money online.

Often, when a cyber criminal contacts you, their emails or texts can look extremely genuine. However, there are a few telltale signs to look out for that will help you to differentiate between a genuine company or a scammer.

Check the email from address – on the face of it, it may seem like it has come from a genuine company, but if you hover over it, you will be able to see the email address behind it – often if it is a fraudster, it will be a completely random address, or it will try to imitate a big organisation by using part of it’s name. It is often a good clue as to whether the communication is genuine.

Is the greeting impersonal – or only half complete. Do they refer to you as Mr Peter or Miss Claire – or just Mrs.

Check the company’s contact information, branding and links – do they stack up or do they redirect you somewhere totally random. Do the logos match – checking for consistency is another way to tell if the email is genuine.

Poor spelling, grammar and presentation are usually the best way to tell if an email is genuine; most large organisations do not make mistakes of this nature, and certainly would not make multiple grammatical errors in one email.

Asking for personal or bank details? Pick up the phone and give them the company a call – it’s always best to check if you are unsure. Most of us now know that legitimate companies would never ask for personal information online, especially pin numbers or credit card security codes.

Check with the real company, brand or organisation – if there are scams that are widely circulating, often companies will publicise these on their own websites to make their customers aware.

If you think you have spotted a scam, there are a number of ways you can report it – to your internet service provider, to the company who the scammer is trying to pretend to be, or to Action Fraud: https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

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