Home Blog Top Signs of a Spam Email & How To Stay Safe

Top Signs of a Spam Email & How To Stay Safe

 2019/08/18   IT & Cyber-Security Solutions   2228 visit(s)


Email is a must-have for easily doing business. For everything from work, shopping, social media and keeping in touch, the benefits email provides has made organizations more efficient and productive than ever before. However, with email attacks (such as, spyware, malware, ransomware, adware, spoofing, phishing and spam emails) becoming increasingly more rampant, it’s now more important than ever before to ensure your employees are protected.

Here are some top tips on how to recognize spam and phishing emails:

Tip #1: Ensure you know and trust the sender before opening an email.

Since you can see who the sender is from your inbox list without having to open the message, you can deduce if a message is spam by simply looking at the sender’s email address. That said, some spam and phishing scams will pretend to be major companies, so you can't assume that an email from "Amazon" is guaranteed to be non-spam.

• If the message was sent from a website that you don’t recognize or an email address from someone you don’t know, chances are the message is spam.

• In rare cases, spammers control other people's accounts, meaning you may get emails from your "friends" who have been hacked. Checking the sender is the first, not the only, step you should take.

• If the sender's address has a bunch of numbers or a domain you don't recognize (the part after the "@") then the email is likely spam.

Tip #2: Check the subject line for common spam topics.

You likely already know most of these -- sales, investment opportunities, new treatments, requests for money, sex, information on packages you never ordered, etc. Usually, you are being offered something, often for nothing. If you didn't order it, don't assume you forgot. This is simply a scam tactic to make you click a bad link.

Tip #3: Beware of urgent or threatening language in the subject line

Invoking a sense of urgency or fear is a common phishing tactic. Beware of subject lines that claim your “account has been suspended” or your account had an “unauthorized login attempt.”

Tip #4: Analyze the salutation

Is the email addressed to a vague “Valued Customer?” If so, watch out—legitimate businesses will often use a personal salutation with your first and last name.

Tip #5: Review the signature

Lack of details about the signer or how you can contact a company strongly suggests a phish. Legitimate businesses always provide contact details.

Tip #6: Don’t give up personal information

Legitimate banks and most other companies will never ask for personal credentials via email. Don’t give them up.

Tip #7: Avoid any "calls to action" or requests for personal information.

This is known as phishing, when a criminal pretends to be a reputable site, like PayPal, that has to "update user information," or needs you to sign in "immediately." In general, if the email asks for immediate action or personal information, it is phishing and should be ignored.

One of the most common subject lines, "Problem with your Account" is almost always phishing. If you had a problem, it will tell you when you log on to the account.

It’s also important to know the two common traits in spam emails, which are requests to provide sensitive information and offers which seems too good to be true. If anything about the email’s content makes you unsure, don’t click any links and get in touch with the sender company to find out if it’s legitimate.

Tip #8: Hover over any links in the email to see if they match their supposed destination.

For example, hover your mouse over the following link for www.facebook.com. Don't click -- instead, look to the bottom-left corner of your screen, where a different URL (one for Wikihow) shows up instead of Facebook. Spammers do this trick all the time to bring you to dangerous sites.

Be especially wary if the address is a set of numbers -- most reputable companies will use words instead of numerals.

Tip #9: Look for typos, especially of key phrases or words.

Spam can come from all over the world and can be written in various writing forms to pique your interest. Find any misspelled words One of the ways spam can get past a filter is by rearranging letters of words that spam filters look out for.

• For example, spam might spell the word “sexual” as “sxeual" to avoid being picked up.

• You might see this in URLs as well, like sending you to "Paypal" instead of PayPal, or www.ebay.random.words.and.numbers.10002122.com

• Spam normally contains extensive, large images that occupy most of the message body. The text is usually large to capture your attention.

Tip #10: Never open or download attachments unless you know what they are.

If you don't know the sender, can't trust a link, or otherwise feel like an email may be spam, do not open any attachments. This is the quickest way to a virus, bar none. If you must open the attachments, right click on them first, then select "scan for viruses" or "scan" before opening.

Gmail automatically checks attachments for viruses, but it isn't perfect.

Tip #11: Type in any links directly instead of clicking on the links.

The most common way you're information is compromised is by clicking a link in the spam email. However, if you're unsure if the email is legitimate or spam, you still have options. For example, if you get a packaging email you weren't expecting from Amazon, log on to Amazon and type in the order number to check it -- don't click on the "track package" link in the email.

Tip #12: See if the message was diverted to the spam folder.

Most email services have an anti-spam feature that filters suspicious messages and diverts them to a specific folder in your email account labeled “Spam.” If the mail server detects a message to be spam, it separates it from your other messages into the Spam folder, away from your inbox. This is the first and most obvious sign of a spam email.

Tip 13: Don’t believe everything you see

Phishers are extremely good at what they do. Just because an email has convincing brand logos, language, and a seemingly valid email address, does not mean that it’s legitimate. Be skeptical when it comes to your email messages—if it looks even remotely suspicious, don’t open it.

How To Deal Effectively With Spam

1. Keep your email address as private as possible.

Don't give your email out unless you trust the source. While some spam is unfortunately inevitable these days, you can minimize most of it by just keeping your email address private.

2. Keep your usernames different from your email addresses

For example, say that your Tumblr handle is WikiHow15. If your email address is wikihow15@gmail.com, you've basically given the whole world your address. Most spammers actually "test" thousands of guessed emails until they find those that work -- so having differentiated emails and usernames can help keep them at bay.

3. Never check the "Yes, I want to receive more information..." box when signing up for sites or deals.

This signs your address up for regular, robotically sent emails, notifications, and spam. Unless you really love the site or band, avoid this box at all costs. Check to see if this box is pre-checked for you -- many sites make you opt-out of spam instead of in.

4. Never provide personal information, including a username or password, in reply to an email or email link.

If Amazon emails you asking to log on and check something, go to Amazon on your own and log on. Phishing is a scam where someone creates a fake site that looks exactly like a real one, then collects emails and passwords from people that they test on other sites (like you bank). If asked for personal information, always refuse

5. Change any identical passwords if you think you've fallen for spam or phishing.

If you gave your password out for Facebook, and your Twitter account uses the same password, change them both. It is better to be safe than sorry, so run through every possible site that could share a password with the one you gave out.

If you're worried about bank information, call your bank and set up an alert. Or monitor your accounts for the next 2-3 weeks, immediately canceling them if weird charges come up.

6. Forward the email to your IT or tech department if it is at all involved with your work or work email.

If you've found a phishing scheme or dangerous spam, let your IT department know. They can search for or neutralize the threat, as well as warn the rest of the company to be on the lookout for specific scams

7. Delete the email once you've informed IT or neutralized the threat.

It can also help to "archive" it, an option with almost all email services. This tucks it away but doesn't delete it, which can help IT or other services fix your computer if the email turns out to contain malware. Even then, when in doubt you should just delete the email - better safe than sorry. Also make sure you delete any and all attachments that you may have downloaded with the email.

8. Create multiple accounts, or change your email regularly.

One of the best ways to avoid spam is to concentrate it in one account. For example, you might set up an account just to buy things online, and another for personal business. You use the first email whenever you're purchasing or giving out bank information, then keep your personal emails in a more private account. You can give away one account at will, because you only really need it for specific functions.

Final Comments:

• Do not click on any button or link that you may see in spam messages. This may either lead you to malicious websites or to download malwares to your computer that can infect it.

• If any of the flags above are met, do not open the email. Just quickly move it to your trash bin.

• Deleted messages inside the Spam folder of your email will not go to the trash bin. They will be permanently removed from your account.


Criminals are constantly refining and updating their spam. If something feels wrong, even if it is not on this list, play it safe and ignore the email.

Ensuring your safety

Though spam is a major concern, this shouldn’t prevent businesses from taking advantage of using email as a way of effectively communicating. Being aware of how to spot spam, and implementing an effective email security solution, which can identify and remove spam before it reaches the mailbox, as well as ensuring emails are safe by implementing a powerful backup solution will protect users from risks and give them confidence online.

Reference: https://www.wikihow.com/Recognize-Spam

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