How to spot spam and avoid the scam

04/07/2017

As part of Scams Awareness Month, we delve into the dark world of phishing and scam emails and highlight the ways to spotting them early to avoid being conned.

There are 205 billion emails sent each day across the globe – out of those, up to 90 billion are spam emails. One of the most common types of spam emails witnessed is known as ‘phishing’; a method favoured by scammers by where they send emails purporting to be from a reputable business as a ploy to get individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Despite many email providers using the latest technology and algorithmic advancements to filter these types of emails out of our inboxes, some do slip through – some are very obvious as to their lack of authenticity and can be easily evaded, but others do make it extremely difficult to separate from a genuine email.

Things to look out for in a suspected scam email:

The sender’s address

Does it vary from the organisation it is reportedly from? I.e. an email stating it’s from PayPal, but with an email address of pay-pall.com.

The email subject and content

Does the subject immediately raise alarm bells? For example, does it state that one of your accounts has been comprised? Is a link included in the body of the email asking you to click to reset your password? All of the above elements are typical scare tactics by scammers.

Check all links before clicking – if in doubt, do not click!

Hover over a link without clicking – does the URL reflect a familiar website address to the company that the email is claiming to be from? You can also use a 3rd party website to check the authenticity of the link, such as www.scanurl.net

The email is claiming to be from your bank

In most cases your bank will never contact you regarding a breach of security to your account via email; more often than not, you will receive a text or telephone call informing you of this.

Spelling or grammatical errors

Although obvious, spelling mistakes is a key element to look for within suspect emails. Even just a few grammatical errors should ring alarm bells if the email is claiming to be from a reputable source, such as eBay.

Suspicious attachments

If the sender of the email has requested that you check an attached delivery note or invoice in the format of a word document, zip file or another unknown file type, be vigilant and do not open or save these until you are sure that the email has originated from a reliable source. 

What you should do if you receive a suspected scam email:

  • Do not click on any links within the email
  • Do not reply to it – doing this will only confirm to the scammer that your email is active
  • Do not open any attachments
  • Never disclose any personal information
  • Report it to the company that it is claiming to be from – for example, PayPal has its own email address for forwarding these kinds of emails onto (spoof@paypal.co.uk

Useful resources to help tackle online scams:

MORE INFORMATION 

This article was written as part of a series of informative snippets for Scams Awareness Month. For more information call Pinney Talfourd on 01708 229444 or email us using the form to the right.

The contents of this article are for the purposes of general awareness only. They do not purport to constitute legal or professional advice. Specific legal advice should be taken on each individual matter. This article is based on the law as of July 2017.

04/07/2017

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