by David Glick (Find him on Google)
Potential Scam Emails
No doubt you have probably received a ridiculous number of emails that tout special offers, prizes, money, awards, and other free stuff or those that try to scare you by telling you that your bank account will soon be closed or your son-in-law is out of the country and just lost all his money. Have you ever clicked on one of those emails to get what it is ‘selling’ or scaring you with, or just out of curiosity?
Yes, I am sure you probably have, as have I. What you probably wonder though is, “Was it a good idea?” or “Is this email a scam?” If you were just out the inconvenience of some lost time, then you got lucky. Where it becomes dangerous is when you lose more than time: Money (repairing the virus you got by clicking the link, or sending money to the scammer), Your Identity, or Worse.
Spotting Scam Emails
Here are some thoughts that will help you make a good decision regarding these potentially difficult emails: when you receive an email that promises you something out of the blue or tries to scare you into taking an action you may regret, you will want to begin the critical thinking process to protect yourself from (mitigate) loss from scam emails. Consider the following:
- Did you request this email or approve contact from this company?
- Is the email really from who they say it is from?
- What does the emailer stand to gain from you?
- What do you stand to lose if you respond?
Prior to replying to this email or clicking the link in the email, consider doing a little detective work. Here are some things that you can do to discover exactly what the email is about and whether the email is really a scam:
- Do a search on Google, Bing, or Yahoo! for the email subject, with or without quotation marks around the phrase and read the first four or five results, especially those with the word ‘scam’ in the body or title.
- If there is a company name in the email, do a search for that to see if it really exists.
- If there is an address in the email, see if it really exists on maps.google.com!
- If there is a phone number, do a reverse phone number check to see if it traces back to the company in the email at White Pages Reverse Lookup
- HERE IS THE FUN PART: If there is a website in the email (or you can use the @companyname part of the email address) do a whois search at this whois website and see if it is a bonafide company. Also check their website. A non-existent website or company domain is not a good sign!
If you have done all of these things and you are satisfied the email came from a reputable company, then it may be okay to proceed with the request in the email, that the email may not be a scam, but with the following caveats:
- Send money to anyone, especially outside of the country, under ANY and ALL circumstances! DO verify the story before doing anything, even if the email says your best friend or favorite relative is out of the country and lost all their money!
- Click links in emails unless you know they are safe. DO mouse over the link in your email program so you can see where the link REALLY goes (A link can say anything but go anywhere else).
- Provide personal information to any person or company if the request came in an email. DO call the company at the contact number YOU have to verify they really need the requested information or that there really is a problem with your account.
Final Thoughts on Scam Emails
To sum up in one sentence: always be suspicious regarding emails of this nature because they may actually be a scam. Do not take a chance by clicking on or responding to a potentially dangerous email – use the methods in this post to help protect you from the repercussions of a scam email.
Finally, here is a great article from UK’s PC Advisor on other scams you may wish to be aware of – it is very good reading: click here to read the article.
We hope this has been helpful to you and provides information that you were not aware of previously. Let us know if you have any other questions on this topic by using our contact form!