Sunday, 06 January 2019 15:23

Email Scams – How can you tell?

Email scams are an ever-increasing threat to us all in this fast-moving digital world. Almost gone are the days of Nigerian princes needing money in order to send you even more money, today scammers are using ever increasingly sophisticated techniques to get hold of your payment information and emails that look genuine from real businesses. So, what we are going to do is show you some basic ways to try and spot scams that your spam filter misses.

First thing to ask is, did you deal with this company? Many try their luck in hopes they hit a potential customer, using bigger companies in which they know have the best reach. Microsoft, PayPal, eBay all used commonly by scammers and if you see from the image below are very convincing. Just the same way those in the UK are targeted with calls from BT Openreach and Microsoft as they know there is a wider customer base.

Sender email address, while at first glance it may initially say Apple or PayPal for example, when you scroll over the name it should show the actual email address. The first red flag can be it’s a bunch or random letters and numbers with a ****.com or ****.ru or anything other than the company it seems to be. Some are getting clever and using email addresses they have registered as to make it look genuine but use a slightly different version to the email addresses actually used.

Subject title, is it pushing you into urgent action? Usually they use email subjects that try to purvey an imminent threat. While this may be used by genuine emails, if it’s pressuring you to take action or catching your attention in your inbox then be extra cautious with these emails.

See if there are spelling and grammar errors, this is usually a clear sign something is not right. Those sending them from foreign countries may not have the full grasp of the English language and could easily make a mistake or use google translate which doesn’t quite get it right.

Do links go to the expected site? Before you click on any link that is meant to direct to an account page or payment portal, scroll over the text with the link and give it a few seconds for the actual link to appear - just like the sender address check if the link looks suspicious. In these situations it’s always best not log in this way and instead go to the actual website and log in that way. We have and example of this in the image.

Is it a very simple design? Larger companies do have a tendency to put far more effort into their emails, making them longer with the usual small print at the bottom. As you can see this is becoming increasingly harder to tell in some cases where they base it on real emails used by the companies.

Do they ask for virtual currency like Bitcoin? Many email scammers prefer the use of digital currencies due to the difficulty in tracing it. One particular email in the last few years uses personal information such as your password to verify that they have hacked your computer and recorded using your webcam. What has happened is that information leaked from any number of sites or companies which is freely available to them adds validity to their claims. One thing you can do to see what may have been leaked is checking https://haveibeenpwned.com/ there you can put in emails and passwords to see if they are out there ready for scammers to exploit. If you find out you have been compromised or suspect you are we advise you change you password for any accounts using it to remain safe.

Also you can check out Action fraud at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/ where they provide updates to the public on scams that are currently doing the rounds and you can report suspected scams so that they can monitor how wide spread it is becoming.

Our best advice, if any doubt at all especially when it comes to payments, is to search online for the actual website used by the company and contact them through the email addresses and telephone numbers direct rather than anything shown on the email. Even then be weary of any websites that may seem less than genuine as even Action Fraud themselves have been victim to this type of scam by having fraudsters register actionfraud.eu and action-fraud.com to convincingly trick victims.

Read 217 times Last modified on Sunday, 06 January 2019 18:02

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