'Never send your credit card number, Social Security number, bank account number, driver's license number, or similar details in an email, which is generally not secure.'
- Yahoo Safety Center
What's an Email Scam?
Since the rise of the internet era, email scams have become a global menace. These scams start with email spams and phishing emails. According to Statista (2019), recent spam emails accounted for around 54% of the total email traffic on the Internet.
The primary goal of a spam email is not to steal personal information. Instead, it could be used for different malicious purposes that include installing adware or malware. The spam email could be dangerous when it is part of a phishing scam that could lead to a phishing attack.
Scammers use phishing emails to trick you into giving them your personal information. They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or social security numbers. Phishing emails may look like they’re from a company you know or trust, and often they tell a story to evoke emotion to make you more vulnerable to attacks. Let’s go over a few tips on recognizing spam email.
Spotting Spam Emails
Spam emails can be spotted by observing the following features in the email. If your email contains some of the features mentioned below, there is a high change that the sender might be trying to trick you.
- Unknown sender:
Unknown senders should not be trusted. Banks and officials never ask for your personal information on the phone or over email, so you should not lower your guard.
- Virus warning:
Emails warning about viruses or attacks may well be scams. Oftentimes scammers try to evoke emotions, like fear, to trick their victims into taking hasty actions.
- Unrealistic promise:
If the email contains an offer that seems unrealistic or too good to be true, it usually is. A great golden rule to go by is to not trust any offers or promises received via email.
If the email contains attachments of executable file such as .exe or .bat. Executable files are the most dangerous, but common text files and slideshows can also lead to trouble.
- Urgent offers:
Sometimes, scammers use “limited offers” to lure in their victims. You should not trust any offers promising amazing discounts or free services/products “only today”.
- Mismatched subject and contents:
If the subject line and the contents of the email do not match, you should delete the email immediately. You should always pay close attention to the sender, anyway.
Phishing emails differ from spam in a few ways. Whereas spam can be used for many purposes, the goal of phishing is usually to get the victims to share their information with the malicious actors.
Phishing is like the word it’s derived from – fishing. The actors never know what they’re going to catch, but they definitely want something. Follow the next guidelines in order to stay safe.
Spotting Phishing Emails
Below you can find some common features that can be used to spot Phishing emails.
- Unofficial Email Domains:
Something is wrong, if the email address of the sender is different than the trusted organization domain. Pay close attention to the sender’s address, as it may tell something’s not right.
- Wrong Domains:
Senders using free public email addresses while pretending to be from an organization are most probably up to no good. Bank employees using emails like email@example.com are not what they say.
- Typos and Misspellings:
Everyone makes mistakes, but a large number of typos and misspellings should make you suspicious. If the message doesn’t seem convincing, something might not be right.
- Invoking Fear:
If the email tries to make you act urgently by evoking fear, for example by threatening with the closure of your account if you do not provide the required information, the message is most likely not legitimate. If an email urges you to take action, you should be wary.
- Virus Warnings:
It might be a paradox, but emails warning about viruses may well contain one themselves. So-called virus warnings are often used in phishing campaigns,
Any attachments – especially executable files, such as .exe files – should be taken as a clear warning sign. Never ever open files from unknown sources.
- Website Link:
Links are much like attachment – do not take action if you do not recognize the sender.
- Personal Information:
Never share your personal information over email. No exceptions – it doesn’t matter who seems to be asking.
- Images in the Email:
Malicious links can be embedded into pictures as well. Handle them with care.
Can you tell what is fake
'The better you are at spotting suspicious emails, the better you will be at preventing security risks.'
Video: How phishing scammers manipulate your amygdala and oxytocin