Bentley Home PC Support - Articles - Identifying Scam Emails


<< Back to Articles

Identifying Scam Emails

It's pretty common nowadays to receive emails, purportedly from your bank or some other prominent business such as Facebook or Paypal, with a message such as:
"To confirm your Online account, You must Sign On before June. 19, 2018. "
"You are required to sign in for verification of account to avoid being permanently locked out. "
or any of a billion other wordings. These are almost always scams. There will always be a link to a website that's going to exploit you while trying to look like the real deal.

The issue is figuring out how to tell the real deal from the scam. These emails are getting harder to identify and closer to looking like the real thing. So how do you tell the fraudsters from the bank/company?

  1. For starters, check the email address that the email is being sent from. If it doesn't have a domain (the part after the '@' symbol) which is the same as the website of the actual business (eg. "something@westpac.co.nz", for westpac), it's a scam.
  2. Similarly, check the "reply-to" field of the email (you may have to right-click the email and go to 'properties' or something similar to find this information, for some email programs). The same rules apply - if the "reply-to" email address's domain isn't the same as the real business, it's a scam.
  3. The email will typically contain a link to a website if it's a scam. That is not to say that a real email won't contain a link, but fake ones almost always will. If you hover your mouse over that link, it should show you the website address the link actually goes to - and again, if that website is not the same as the purported business's actual website, don't click on it - it's a trap!
  4. Legitimate websites will tend not to have spelling or grammar mistakes. If the spelling or grammar is poor, it's probably a scam. In addition, the language will probably be urgent!, encouraging you to act as soon as possible.
  5. Does the email use your actual name/business name? Real businesses probably will. A scam will tend to use a non-committal salutation like "sir".

Luckily there are several email programs, as well as many anti-virus packages, which do a great job of filtering out the bulk of junk and scam emails. Thunderbird is an email program with a great built-in junkmail filter which learns over time, based on what you indicate to be junk. And most antivirus packages will have an email plugin which identifies possible or known scam attacks. Eset's Internet Security is a good example of this, as is Avast's package. However these filters don't work when checking your email through a web browser, so it's always good practice to sharpen your mental scam detector.

- Matt Bentley, computer expert at Bentley Home PC Support.
Email info@homepcsupport.co.nz or phone 0211348576.

Click here to go back to the main page.

© 2019 Matthew Bentley. All Rights Reserved