I guess everybody gets their fair share of junk email. For some, it may be more so than for others. But how can we tell the difference between benign commercial spam and malicious emails that want to compromise our security?
Unwanted commercial spam emails are simple to see, report, and delete, but what about the more malicious forms of spam? How do you tell if an email you received has a harmful link or attachment, or if it’s an attempt to steal your identity or financial data?
When you do find fraudulent emails in your inbox, what do you do? Are you sure that marking it as spam and erasing it won’t cause any problems?
Whether that spam is just an annoyance or a potentially dangerous landmine, knowing what you’re up against is essential for deciding how to deal with it.
Here Are Five Warning Signs to Lookout For in Spam Emails
Before deciding what to do with a malicious email, users should be familiar with certain general strategies for spotting warning signs. Specifically, they are the following:
1. You Entered an Incorrect Sender’s Address
Verify that the sender’s name and the company’s domain are correct using this address. You can see this if you set your email client to show the sender’s actual email address, rather than simply their display name.
You need to learn to look at the address with a critical eye because spammers often use deceptive methods to make it seem like they’re sending from a legitimate company.
2. The Writer Is Obviously Not Familiar with The Recipient
Is the recipient’s name clearly written down, and are you addressed in the way you would expect to be? Does this signature look like something this sender would use? Financial institutions rarely use salutations like “Dear customer” If the email is genuine and meant for you, the sender will identify themselves by using your complete name.
3. The URLs for Embedded Links Are Strange
Never click on a link in an email without first hovering over it. Don’t rush to make that click. Verify that you are taken to the expected website by checking if the URL matches up. (Practice making sharp observations.)
Is there a possibility of a download? Is a link shortening service being used? Instead of clicking the link in the email, utilize the direct shortcut to the company’s website if you have one.
4. It’s Not Quite Right in Terms of Language, Spelling, and Grammar
Does It Look Like Someone Used a Machine to Translate the Email, or Are There a Lot of Typos in It?
5. The Material Is Strange or Unbelievable, Which Is the Fifth Point
Things that seem too good to be true usually aren’t. These scammers would have us believe that people with long-lost relatives who leave them vast fortunes or suitcases full of cash in some foreign place are more common than they actually are.
In order to successfully phish for funds, spam emails will often make exaggerated claims about how much money you will get from a tiny investment. This form of spam has historically been referred to as “Nigerian prince” or “419” spam.