Email scams and how to recognise them!
We’ve all had them. Scams by post, scams by phone, scams by email and online scams – criminals just waiting to catch us with our guard down.
It’s turning us into a generation of paranoid disbelievers, wary of buying anything online, not answering the phone unless we recognise the number and dubious about anything landing in our email – but that’s not necessarily a bad thing!
Questioning every communication directed towards you, thinking it could be an attempted scam is a pretty good idea. It keeps your wits about you and sharpens awareness of the possibilities.
All too common
Email scams, or phishing scams, are a particular concern. They have become regular features in our inbox with numbers and frequency increasing all the time. It has reached the stage when it is now really difficult to identify a genuine enquiry from a scam. So just how can we protect ourselves from the email scammers? Here are a few simple precautions:
- Not expecting an email? – If you have not been anticipating an email from this particular sender, beware! It’s probably a scam so delete it straight away.
- Is the ‘from’ address genuine? – Scammers are able to hide their address behind a genuine address the email has been sent from. By hovering your cursor over the visible address, you will be able to see if a scam address is lurking behind it.
- Does the branding look real? – Some emails claiming to be from an organisation, like supermarkets, banks or even Government departments, are often accompanied by the firm’s branding which includes company colours and wording and can be so convincing. Check the company’s brand colours and wording fonts – if they differ, even slightly, this should set the alarm bells ringing!
- Is the email asking for bank or other personal information? – This vital information is what the scammers are after. Keep your personal details to yourself. The vast majority of companies will not ask for this information in an email. If they do, the chances are it’s a scam.
- Check the smallprint – Read through the contact information, dates and so on. Emails that contain inconsistencies are often tell-tale signs of a scam, but be careful! No information inconsistencies doesn’t mean it’s genuine!
- Bad spelling or grammar? – While we are on the subject of checking through an email, check the grammar and spelling. Legitimate companies are normally very hot on this kind of thing, so if the email you have received falls short of the standards you would usually expect, it’s likely to be a scam.
- Is the linked website genuine? – We’ve all seen it. An email asking you to click on a link to view an important message, some even threatening legal action or some such dire consequences if you don’t. It may prove costly if you act in haste and click the link. The answer, if you are unsure about the email authenticity, is to log into your account via the official website and check if there are any messages waiting for you. If not, you know the email is a scam.
- Carry out your own checks – If you have received an email from a firm, organisation or department, it’s easy to check up by calling the number you will have on any correspondence, if it’s someone you already have dealings with, or by looking up their contact details on their official website. Never checkup by calling the telephone number in the email.
- Ensure your employees let you know – If you are an employer with a large workforce make sure they know they can come to you. If an employee is worried they may have a spam email – and may have fallen foul of it – you need to know so that you can take action.
And if you, or an employee, do get caught out by a spam email and you believe your systems may have been compromised – please do get in touch with us.