5 Ways to Spot Dangerous Spam Emails

I don’t think anyone can survive in this day and age without email (unless ofcourse you’re Christopher Nolan), it has became an indispensable part of our personal and work life. Let me give you some stats to warm you up, according to Statista about 306.4 billion emails are sent every day, worldwide and the number is expected to increase to over 347 billion daily mails by 2022. 

That’s pretty awesome isn’t it but more than half of these emails are spam. It’s annoying, it impacts productivity, and it opens us up to phishing and malware attacks. But don’t you worry, as in this article i’ll give you some pretty amazing tips that’ll help you identify dangerous spam emails, thus allowing you to protect yourself and your data.

It asks for sensitive information

Phishing scams usually appear to come from legitimate businesses, like your bank, Apple or a government agency. These emails will often request sensitive information such as passwords, credit card information, credit scores, tax numbers, & so forth, this information can then be used to drain the bank accounts of the victim or even identity theft. 

I know it’s practically not very possible to avoid giving away your personal information in business, but you should always remember legitimate businesses, like the government or your bank, will never ask for your personal information via email.

So, if you receive an unsolicited email from an organization that asks you to provide sensitive information, it’s most probably a scam.

Its full of gramatical or spelling errors

I guess the most easiest way to recognize a scammy email is if it contains poor spelling and grammar. A large chunk of phishing emails are poorly written, mainly because scammers aren’t very good at writing as many of them are from non-English-speaking countries and from backgrounds where they don’t have much access to learn the language.`

When crafting phishing emails, scammers will often use an online translation service, which are ofcourse not very reliable. But with that all said, i also do not want to say any email with a mistake in it is a scam, though. As, everyone makes typos once in a while, especially when they’re in a hurry. 

It’s therefore your (the reciever’s) responsibility to look at the context of the error and determine if its a typo made by a legitimate sender or a scam. You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is it a common sign of a typo (like hitting “S” instead of “A” or any other adjacent key)?
  • Is this email a template, which should have been crafted and copy-edited?
  • Is it consistent with previous messages I’ve received from this email address?

So keeping this in mind, it becomes very easier to differentiate between a typo made by a legitimate sender and a scam.

It includes suspicious attachments or links

Almost all of the phishing emails contain a payload. This will either be an infected attachment that contains malware that you’re asked to download or a link to a bogus website that requests login and other sensitive information.

Typically, legit companies don’t randomly send you emails with attachments, but instead direct you to download documents or files on their official website. You should know that this method isn’t completly foolproof as sometimes companies that already have your email will send you information that may require a download. In that situation, be on the lookout for high-risk attachment file types including .exe, .scr, and so forth. You can also contact the company directly by using contact information obtained from their official website whenever in doubt.

Just because a link says it’s going to send you to one place, doesn’t mean it’s going to. So, to be on the safe side always hover over the links in the email before clicking on them. If the link in the text isn’t identical to the URL displayed as the cursor hovers over the link, that’s a sure sign you will be taken to a site you don’t want to visit. 

Also, only click if the destination URL match the destination site you would expect, if a hyperlink’s URL doesn’t seem correct, or doesn’t match the context of the email, well, then avoid clicking on it.

It is sent from a public email domain

The first thing that you should do when you get an email is to check the email address by hovering your mouse over the ‘from’ address. You will never be contacted by a legitimate organisation through an address that ends with ‘@gmail.com’. 

Every organisation will have its own email domain and company accounts. For instance, legitimate emails from Paypal will read ‘@paypal.com,’ while Google one’s will read ‘@google.com’ not ‘@gmail.com’. 

So, if the domain name (the string that comes after the @ symbol) matches the apparent sender of the email, the message is most probably legitimate. There are lots of ways you can check an organisation’s domain name but i guess the most easiest and best way is to just type the company’s name into a search engine.

This makes detecting phishing seem easy, but remember, the method isn’t completly foolproof as independent workers and some smaller companies do use 3rd party email providers.

Seem Too Good To Be True? It Probably Is.

Another sign of a dangerous spam email is when the content seems too good to be true. People with lost relatives that leave you million of dollars in some far-away country are not as common as these scammers would have us believe. Such emails are almost always phishing schemes trying to collect money from the recipent by promising to deliver great gain in return for a small investment. This type of spam is typically called “Nigerian prince” or “419” spam.

Final thoughts…

Spam can be dangerous and can harm you in a lot of ways. By following the above tips you can easily identify the most common types of spam. If there is anything wrong with the email just leave it alone, don’t attempt to “unsubscribe” or reply to spam as even that comes with its own set of dangers!

Moreover, remember even if everything seems fine there is still a possibility of the email being malicious. So, to be on the safer side you can also install anti-spam software to protect yourself from dangerous spam.

Thank you for reading!