Six ways to recognize it and avoid it
Spam can be at best a nuissance. But at its worst it can also cause you to unknowingly install malware on your computer, or send you to websites you don’t want to go to. But how do you know if that email you are looking at is dangerous or not?
Below are five ways to help you determine whether email is really spam or if it is legitimate email from a trusted source.
If the subject line contains drug names, a pharmacy name or sells replica watches or similar items, it is very likely Spam. Don’t trust it. You never know whether you are really going to get what they advertise. It is best to just delete the email. If you have opened the email you are probably safe. However, to avoid downloading malware, or going to unknown sites, do not click on any links in the email.
2. Sender’s email address
Look at the sender’s name. Postal Service, DHL, UPS, You Tube Service, the FBI, or other prominent names, it is probably not from the claimed source. The ‘From:’ name is not necessarily the real sender’s moniker. In most mail systems you can rest your mouse over the email address or right click on it and see who the real sender is. Spam emails are usually a Yahoo!, gmail or other email provider address, not from the purported company or agency. Even when you get regular emails from sources like Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., check the actual email address to make sure it is really from that source.
Links in emails may or may not show a web address. But the link’s displayed name or location may not be the real destination site if you click on it. Rest your mouse over the link and you will usually see the real link address in the lower left corner of the window.
4. Misspelled words or grammatical errors
A poorly written email is a red flag. Most legitimate emails from companies, are written well. So if you see badly formed sentences, misspellings or other mistakes it is usually a sign that the email is spam.
5. Requests for information
Many spam emails request information like account numbers, user names and passwords, or other personal information like birthdays, addresses and even social security numbers. NEVER, NEVER, NEVER give out this type of information. Companies will never request this type of information via email. If you are not sure whether you need to reply to an email or not, call the company on the phone and speak to their customer service instead.
6. Offers to give you money
Many spam emails request that you help someone from another country transfer money to this country, and they will give you a large percentage of the money. Others ask you to cash a check for them. It is never a good idea to go along with any of these.
The best thing to do to avoid being scammed is use common sense. If you are at all suspicious about an email, look at it closely. You will very likely see one or more of the above signs that it is spam. If so, the best thing to do is delete it.