8 Ways to Spot a Spam Email
While spam email was once just an annoyance, it has evolved into something more serious, like spear phishing, where scammers send fake emails that look like they're from someone you know but are actually full of malicious links and/or attachments designed to damage your computer or steal your personal information. If you have been hit by spam, or if you just want to learn how to spot spam emails so that you can better protect yourself, then check out this guide on 8 ways to spot a spam email.
1. How does the author write?
If an email is signed with several different names, that's a bad sign. As LegitMail notes, The difference between someone who sincerely wants your business and an Internet scammer is simple—the latter won't care about you personally. Same goes for excessive exclamation points or caps lock. It's hard to read, it feels awkward and it probably won't help you make any money.
2. Does it have poor formatting?
Look at how your email is formatted. Is it easy on your eyes? Does it have lots of strange symbols, or has it been written in all capitals? Are there spelling mistakes? Take time out to compose an email that looks professional. You'll find that people are more likely to take you seriously if you look like a professional yourself.
3. Are there spelling and grammar mistakes?
The simplest way to tell whether an email is spam or not is by scanning it for spelling and grammar mistakes. If you find any, you can almost be sure that there are some dodgy things happening behind-the-scenes. If you don't know what they mean (does dodgy make sense here?. then Google them so that you do.
4. Is it from a legitimate looking company?
Be wary of any email that seems too good to be true. If it's supposedly coming from an established company, but is poorly written or sounds suspicious, there's a good chance you're being scammed. Keep in mind that scammers have become experts at what they do and are capable of making even small business owners appear genuine.
5. What is its purpose?
The first step in spotting spam is determining what exactly you're looking for. Does it come from an unfamiliar email address? Does it claim your computer is infected? Is it trying to get you to click on a link? These are all common spam signifiers, and once you determine what they are, spotting that junk mail is easy. For example, if you receive an email asking for your personal information, like credit card numbers or Social Security number, that's obviously not legitimate.
6. Does it ask you to do something?
The best rule of thumb is if it asks you to do something, such as click on something or give out your personal information, then it's probably spam. If you get an email from someone who sounds like they may be legitimate but then wants you to click on something, go somewhere, or open an attachment – don't do it! Be safe and just ignore that email.
7. Who else does it look like it was sent to?
If you received an email that looks like it was sent directly to you but was actually sent to a group of people, it might be spam. Remember, spammers want your email address! If an email does not contain a clear call-to-action or any information about how to buy something or sign up for something, chances are good that's what it is—just another company fishing for your contact info.
8. Who else might be targeted by this message?
If you're receiving spam, it's possible that other people in your organization are getting them too. Be sure to let everyone else know if you spot something fishy in their inbox so they can be on guard and avoid accidentally clicking on any links. This is especially important when someone has a habit of deleting suspicious emails without reading them—by alerting others, you can make sure they don't miss out on anything important.