Scam Emails have been rolling for years and phishing is a type of email scam. Around 2010 and 2014 alone, phishing incidents has grown more than 160%, costing organization around the world billions of dollars and attacking more than half of internet users.
In this article, we will be learning how to detect scam emails and phishing scams and as well as protect yourself.
What Is Scam Emails?
Scam Emails are any scams that make uses of email as its main vector. The most popular email scam is the phishing scam, along with the spoofing scam.
- Phishing is a type of scam where the scammer is trying to extract or get sensitive details from the would-be victims.
- Spoofing entails making it look like an original email came from a legitimate source. Quite often the two are used alongside to craft elaborate scams.
How Do Scam Emails Work?
These scams first manipulate their way into your inbox and make it look like coming from a legitimate source. They often present it in the form of normal messages about some great opportunity that catches your interest which you feel like taking advantage of immediately, or some kind of emergency or problem that you need to handle and make up your mind.
There is nearly always a sense of persistence or urgency that’s designed to motivate you to act immediately without thinking. The scammers always know that the more time you spend before you take action, the more thinking you will do, and the easier it will be for you to locate inconsistencies in the email and get a doubtful mind towards it.
The scope is to get you to act on a sense of urgency, and normally involves clicking some kind of link that will direct you to the scammer’s website page, where you will be asked to log in to your account or perform some other action designed to get your personal information.
Sometimes clicking the link alone will downloads malware to your computer, where it will cause havoc. The same happens if the email involves some kind of attachment, which will typically be malware you unwittingly download into your computer device when you open the attachment.
Nevertheless, once you give out your personal details such as your phone number, social security number, bank account number, or pin, it will be used by the scammer for fraudulent motives.
How Do Email Scammers Find Victims?
Email scammers generally buy email addresses in bulk on the dark web. Each time you hear of a heavy data breach affecting large companies, it’s likely the compromised emails are going to be traded on the black market.
On the other hand, scammers look for emails through a trial and error process where they try various possible names. Any kind of method that is used, you’re almost be assured to receive at least one email from a scammer in your lifetime. Over half of the internet get at least one phishing email on a daily basis.
Ways To Avoid Getting Involved in Email Scams?
Your powerful defense is to have the ability to spot these emails. Here are some vital things to look out for that will tell you whether you are dealing with a scam email.
THE DOMAIN IS PUBLIC
Unless you’re dealing with a single worker, every official email from companies ends with the company’s domain. Google, for example, uses “@google.com” while almost every university will use “@university.edu”, where ‘university’ is often the university name or abbreviation.
where the email address ends in a public domain, you are most likely dealing with a scammer.
SPOOFED DISPLAY NAME
When opening your email, the display name and the “From:” field might involve the name Google. Nevertheless, if you take a good look at the email address, you’ll see that the email has nothing in common to do with Google.
Spoofing a display name is pretty simple over email, with scammers selecting which display name to show, even when the email address is totally fake. Most people also trust display names, believing them to be from a genuine source without actually checking the email address.
A MISSPELLED DOMAIN NAME
There are times the domain name can seem legit at first sight. It might look like @microsoft.com from a far distance, but it’s better to look closely. For instance, microsoft.com might be spoofed as “mircosoft.com” or “micosoft.com” or some other variation. They look eerily alike, but two are fakes.
When assessing the email address from a sender, even though it looks legitimate, be sure to still look closely to see if you’ll see any misspellings in the domain name.
THE EMAIL IS FULL OF GRAMMATICAL ERRORS
A legitimate email from any organization will often be revised and proofread to ensure that it is grammatically correct and free of typos. Most emails from scammers consist of typos and grammatical errors.
When you’re looking at a doubtful email, pay little attention to the typos and more attention to the grammatical errors. Even native speakers make typos. Many grammatical errors seen in scam emails are of a nature that only a non-native speaker would make such. They are obvious and will give you that doubtful gut feeling that tells you something’s not quite right.
HOW MANY BENEFICIAL ARE THERE?
Normally, when scammers send their emails it’s an automated process. They get a large number of addresses and send a mass message to all of them. You might find that the “To:” field in the email has your address as well as many others. That should immediately raise a red flag.
When a legal company wants to send you a personal email, they don’t tag a bundle of other addresses in the email. It is particularly for your eyes only.
SUSPICIOUS LINKS AND ATTACHMENTS
Numerous scam emails carry skeptical attachments and links in them. Do not open the attachments from those emails because they are most likely entertaining malware that will contaminate your computer.
If you want to confirm whether the attachment comes from the true origin or not, simply contact the sender in some other way, such as phone or IM, and ask them about it. Do not open the attachment.
On occasions, links are shrouded behind a button in the email. In that case, move your mouse above the link, and look at the URL leaked in the bottom left-hand corner of your browser. If the URL looks doubtful, don’t click it. Instead, contact the sender via some other medium and ask them about the credibility of the link.
A SENSE OF URGENCY
Time after time, the message will try to invoke a sense of importance. They will tell you that your account has been compromised and you need to do something immediately to save it, or that you are the winner of some lottery you don’t remember signing up for and you need to act swiftly to collect your reward. Any time you see this, just know that you are definitely dealing with a scam.
Criminals will do anything to get you to act ignorantly, also creating a false sense of importance to get you to act without thinking.
What Should I Do As A Victim?
If you’ve already been defrauded and it happened on a computer at work, relay the incident to the IT department or your boss. If it’s on your home computer, report it as quickly as possible online.
You should also immediately take possible steps to guard the compromised accounts, such as modifying your password or alerting Google, your bank, or whichever platform you opened the account on. If your credit card information has been taken, contact your bank and ask them to suspend your credit card immediately.
Ultimately, you should inform these scams with others by relaying them so they can be further probed and averted in the future. But your greatest defense, by far, is to know how to detect them in the first place.
Ways To Avoid Being Targeted for Email Scams?
Unfortunately, just having an email address makes you prey. Modify your password on a constant basis and make them strong. Strong passwords should have upper and lowercase letters, at least one number, and at least one symbol.
When you are mindful of the scams that exist you’ll be more likely to identify them and report them.