Email helps us keep in touch with friends, communicate quickly with coworkers, and receive messaging from businesses we interact with (like banks, service providers, and even coupon services!). We share our email address with people and companies we trust, and as a result, our instinct is to trust every message that hits our inbox.
But the sad reality is that, much like our physical mailing addresses, entities we do not provide our info to can send things to us…and these emails can sometimes be malicious. These emails are called “phishing,” “scam” or simply “spam” emails, and should be reported (“mark as spam” in your email inbox, deleted/ignored, and/or reported directly to your email provider…NEVER respond).
Here are 4 simple ways to spot a scam email:
1) There are misspellings. Unless the email is from a friend (and there are no links to click on), this message is probably a hastily-put-together spam email.
2) The email asks for personal info. No reputable company will EVER ask you to reply to an email with personal information. They will refer you to their legitimate website.
3) There are links in the email that aren’t what they promise to be. If you get an email from a bank, and the link sends you to a website that LOOKS like your bank, but the URL (the web address in the navigation bar…for example, “www.google.com” is the URL for google”) is not ACTUALLY for your bank, the email is 100% spam. Do not enter your personal info.
TIP: To be SURE, even if you do receive legitimate emails from your bank (or any entity you log into), don’t click the email links. Instead, visit the website on your own to make sure you’re always visiting the right website.
4) There is an attachment. Do not open attachments that aren’t (a) from people on your contact list who have told you an attachment was coming, and (b) attachments containing info that YOU requested from a business.
TIP: Make sure the customer service person sending you the attachment has an email address “firstname.lastname@example.org”