How to spot an email scam

Security 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.

Email Scam Signs

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:

One important point to remember is, be VERY careful about clicking on any links on potential email scams – often you click and it appears nothing has happened, but in that instance a small piece of malicious code could be now sitting on your device logging all that you do. It will sit there for days or weeks before it decides to send out all your information in one go, then the damage is done before any system can react. Constant scanning of your system will find these so do your scans and update anti virus software on a regular basis.

Scanning your system regularly for email scams with an anti virus software system is a absolute must. These can be set to scan when you are not doing anything so it runs quietly in the background. Update these automatically so you can be as current as possible.

Backups – yes we all know but no one does it. So why not automate it – get a paid system that does is in the background and you will never get caught out again. Remember that if you have a virus you may also have backed up the virus so consider how far back you have to go to get a clean version. Consider getting in touch with a security expert if you have been hacked, it could save you a lot of time in the long run.

Overall don’t panic if you find a virus, disconnect from the internet and run a scan first, then consider asking for help!

Image: methodshop | Pixabay