Email scams, also known as phishing scams, are a popular fraudulent activity many criminals attempt to make use of. Usually, the emails are trying to steal your personal information such as bank details; they can pose as your bank or lull you into a false sense of complacently, by acting as if you’ve won a competition, for example. Other methods include infecting your computer with malicious malware, which will infect your computer or any other electronic device you’re using.
Luckily, there are many ways for you to stay one step ahead of phishing scams. Here’s what to watch out for when it comes to deciding whether an email is trustworthy or not.
Check the ‘From’ Address
The name may seem trustworthy and professional; however, if you hover over the sender’s name, you may be surprised to find out that it was sent by the email address ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’. Ask yourself, would your bank be contacting you through a Hotmail address? Of course, the answer would be a firm ‘no.’
How is the Greeting?
It’s easy to find out your name, but that doesn’t mean all scammers are likely to send you a personal email. They’re trying to hit as many people as they can, and so the email is more than likely to start with a simple and impersonal ‘Hi.’ Once this quick greeting is out-of-the-way, you’ll find that the email is rushing to get to the point: asking for your personal and bank details.
Cross-Examine the Branding
Anyone can work their magic with Photoshop, but that doesn’t mean the logo will be completely accurate. Check everything, from the line work to the coloring, to the slogan (if there is one), and whether they sit in the same place, they usually do. You should also check it against the last genuine email you were sent by them.
Are They Asking for Personal or Bank Details?
Not one company or business would ask you to input your personal or bank details through an email, and so if they are asking you to sign-in or update your existing details, it is likely going to be a scam. Personal details they may ask of you include:
- Credit card number
- PIN number
- Credit card security code
- Mother’s maiden name
- The answer for any typical security questions, such as the name of your first pet or the street you grew up on.
Check the Grammar, Punctuation, and Spelling
Professional emails should not be littered with grammar, spelling or punctuation mistakes. Font styles and size should be consistent, and usually, a company will use the same font throughout all their company emails.
Make Contact with the Real Company
The safest route you can take is to contact the company directly and ask them whether they have sent a recent email to you. The company will be able to check, and with social media, they are incredibly quick at picking up these issues customers may be experiencing. Big companies are usually aware of scams that are currently circulating, and so they may already have an FAQ on scams to look out for.