How to spot a scam email (and what to do with it)

Scam fishing emails

There are so many types of scam emails!

Unfortunately, scam emails are common and can look realistic. There are all kinds of scam emails too! You’ve probably seen a few of them, offerings of money, false password resets, and even false account update emails. Scam artists are getting clever and constantly troll for those who don’t understand. 

Hannah Raeside

Office Manager, Pod Creative

Why email?

Quite simply, to reach the masses! The vast majority of people have email, with most having multiple email accounts. It’s also an easy scam, a few pre-written emails, a bot to automate and you can scam the masses with a few clicks.

How to spot a scam email

There are many different scams out there, but the vast majority have a few key things in common. Let’s take a look.

Bad grammar and spelling errors

The vast majority of scam emails will be riddled with choppy grammar and obvious spelling errors. Most scam emails are written in the scammer’s native language (not English) and then translated, hence the odd word choice, terrible grammar, and bad spelling. Random words will be capitalized, common words misspelled, and punctuation is usually missing.

The email address is unusual

This can be anything from using your email address to using your domain name as an email address. One of our clients recently received a confusing spam message from their own email.

Updates! Now!

They ask something of you, such as clicking a link or replying with sensitive information. Common scams include the words “upgrade,” “renew,” “special offer,” or “reactivate.”

Weird Language

They try to use official-sounding words but the word choice doesn’t make sense. For example, instead of saying inbox, they might use the term “emailbox.”

General Greeting

The name of the person the emailed is spelled incorrectly or completely missing. The email may also be addressed to “Dear Sir or Madam” or another variation of a generic greeting. For example, we get a lot of spam emails to info@podcreative.ca and they’re usually addressed to “info.”

Domain or Email Expiring

If you have a domain and domain-related email you may end up with emails saying your domain is about to expire or your email is full. They even look real because they seem to come from your email address. Always make sure you check with your domain and hosting provider before doing anything!

Urgent Action

A sense of urgency or urgent action is demanded. Be suspicious of emails that claim you must click, call, or open an attachment immediately. Often, they’ll claim you have to act now to claim a reward or avoid a penalty. Creating a false sense of urgency is a common trick of phishing attacks and scams. They do that so that you won’t think about it too much or consult with a trusted advisor who may warn you.

Incorrect email domains

If the email claims to be from a reputable company, like Microsoft or your bank, but the email is being sent from another email domain like Gmail.com, or microsoftsupport.ru it’s probably a scam. Also be watchful for very subtle misspellings of the legitimate domain name. Like micros0ft.com where the second “o” has been replaced by a 0, or rnicrosoft.com, where the “m” has been replaced by an “r” and a “n”. These are common tricks of scammers.

Special note

We often find that when we register a new domain, either on the behalf of a client or for internal use, we are contacted by “web developers” out of India offering their “services.” There seems to be some sort of registry alert these “companies” (loose term) get as soon as any new domain is registered. If you come across this we recommend you do not engage with them, ignore any emails or calls, and block them. They try and lure in unsuspecting victims with promises of designer websites for cheap, SEO help, and more. It’s all a scam. 

Important!

If you are unsure if something is spam please contact your domain and hosting provider! We much rather our clients come to us with spam emails than accidentally fall victim to them. 

What to do with a scam email

If you’re confident you have a scam email the best thing to do is mark it as spam and then clear out your spam folder. Marking these types of messages as spam will help your email program better recognize spam emails and label them accordingly. If for any reason you aren’t sure we recommend you reach out to a trusted person, such as your hosting provider or web team, to double check. We are always happy to confirm a scam email!

Always be on the lookout for scams and spam emails, they happen frequently. If you think you may have fallen for a scam email immediately stop and contact your email provider. They will let you know the best steps to take. Stay vigilant friends!

Wrapping this up

Scam emails are unfortunately plentiful but with our tips above we can help keep you safe. Learn the signs of a scam email and keep yourself safe. Don’t forget, the team at Pod Creative is always here to help! 

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