How to spot a scam email

Every day countless scam emails are sent to unsuspecting victims all over the world. While some of these messages are obviously fake, others can be a bit more convincing. So how do you tell the difference between a scam email and a legitimate message? Unfortunately, there is no one single technique that works in every situation, but there are a number of things that you can look for. Here are our top tips on how to spot a scam email:

Check the ‘From’ address

Check the company branding

To find out if there’s a fraudster behind what looks like a genuine sender, check the email address behind the sender name. A lot of scam emails usually have unrecognisable email addresses behind what looks like a genuine sender name.

Does the ‘Contact us’ information at the bottom of the email link to anything? If so, are the websites links genuine? If the answer is no, you should be on your guard. To see where a web link leads to, simply hover your mouse cursor over the link. Are the copyright dates up to date? Often scammers will forget this detail. If you see this level of inconsistency, it’s probably a scam.

Check any embedded URLs in the email

If the hyperlinked address is different from the address that is displayed, the message is probably fraudulent. The best way to find this out is to hover over the URL to see the actual hyperlinked address. If the domain name is not the same as the genuine site they claim to be, then the site is likely to be fraudulent.

Check for grammar and spelling mistakes

Increasingly scammers are getting better at presenting phishing emails that are relatively free of poor spelling and grammar. But, you should still watch out for the tell-tale signs. It is common to find a lack of consistency with the presentation of the email, which may include several different font styles and sizes as well as a mismatch of logos.

Check if the email asks for personal information

A reputable company should never send an email asking for your personal information. Personal information includes things like your National Insurance number, your credit card number, Pin number, or credit card security code, your mother’s maiden name or any other security answers you may have entered.

Does the offer seem too good to be true?

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you receive a message from someone unknown to you who is making big promises, the message is probably a scam. Likewise, If you get a message informing you that you have won a contest that you did not enter, the message is probably a scam.

Does the sender ask for money or make threats?

Although most phishing scams try to trick people into giving up cash or sensitive information by promising an unrealistic amount of money as a reward, some scams also use intimidation to scare victims into giving up information. If a message asks for money or makes unrealistic threats, it’s probably a scam.

Do they appear to be official?

You are unlikely to see the messaging in a truly official email talking about how official it is. Scam emails may also contain information such as account numbers and IDs designed to trick you into thinking the email is genuine. Check any of these against your records to see if they match.

This same principle almost always applies to email messages. If you receive a message that seems suspicious, it’s usually in your best interest to avoid acting on the message. Visit our security section to learn more about how Youtility protects your data, including how no one can access your bank account or transfer money.

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