8 ways to identify if an email is real or a scam
Phishing schemes are attempts to fool you into giving someone private data and can exist on websites or in emails. The main difference is that you have to go to a website and enter information in the former, but in the latter, the scam comes to you. And just like the sites, the emails are designed to look legitimate and rope you into providing the scam artists with information that you don’t want anyone to have. This article will tell you how to identify those phony phishing emails.
Requests for private information
If the email asks you for personal information, especially financial account information, it is almost certainly a scam. Legit businesses and certainly government agencies don’t ask for information in this fashion.
Not addressing you by your name
A dead giveaway is how the email addresses you. Think about it – if a company or agency you do business with sends you an email, wouldn’t they know your name? If the email is addressed to sir or madam, or even your email address, beware.
Links within emails
Is there a link the email wants you to click on or is the whole email one big link? If so, be careful. In most email systems and web browsers, if you hover the mouse over the link, you can see the address in the lower left corner. If the link says mybank.com and when you hover over it, the address shown is something else, usually foreign, then you know it’s a scam.
If the email is a warning that your computer is in danger of something, just delete it. This is a standard way for scammers to scare people into taking action. Best case, they sell you something you don’t need and worst case, they hack your private information on the computer.
If the email has an attachment, don’t open it unless you are 100% sure it’s legitimate. If it is someone you know and you are expecting an attachment, fine, otherwise, make sure first. Email the person or business and ask them if they sent you an attachment. Emails themselves are usually harmless; it’s the links and attachments where the traps lie.
Beware of emails that are asking for money. Whether it purports to come from a friend, a charity, or a stranger looking for help, be very careful. Your address book may have been hacked, and the email isn’t from a friend at all.The next step will be to wrangle information, allowing them to gain access to your bank account or credit card.
Offering of gifts
If the email makes an offer too good to be true, such as a lot of money, a gift card or an expensive gift for free, it’s likely a phishing attack. Just like you have to be careful if they are asking for money, do the same if they want to give you money. Why would anyone, especially a stranger, want to give you money? The most famous and familiar of these scams is the Nigerian scam, offering you millions of dollars in some strange and mysterious account.
Threats from government or law enforcement
Maybe the email isn’t asking for money, but demanding it. If it supposedly comes from the IRS or some other government or law enforcement agency, it is absolutely, always, a scam. None of these agencies operate this way.
Emails are a great way to communicate, receive offers and gain information. But they are also dangerous when misused. Pay attention and be careful and you should be safe from these clever crooks.