How to Spot an Email Scam

Woman typing on laptop

You hear about email scams on the news and you read about them online but have YOU ever been a target of one? Fraudulent emails can come in many different forms in your mailbox.

These email phishing cyber attacks are disguised to trick the user into clicking a link or downloading a file. The creators of these emails are good at what they do — making emails look authentic and serious. Take for example this email from Netflix I recently received:

Looks real, right? A colorful, professional layout, contact information, a common problem being addressed — but this email is not real and these are the things you either need to look for or ask yourself:

  1. Check the email used – is it the same as the one you use for your account? Most times it may be another email of yours but not the one you have registered with.
  2. Is the contact information legitimate? Look at the phone number in this email, it is missing a digit to make it legitimate (615x).  If an email is used, the server name ( that follows the @ sign should match the same one the company uses on their website. You can visit the company’s actual website to verify that, but do not use any of the links in the email, use a new browser tab to visit the website.
  3. Are there misspellings in the text? Often the grammar and spelling in the body of the spam message is poor.

Scams like this are found in everyone’s inbox, so don’t panic. According to Symantec by the end of 2017, the average user was receiving 16 malicious emails per month. If you suspect an email is fake, avoid clicking on any of its content, including reply. Take the extra step and call the company, using a phone number on their website NOT the phone number provided in the email. A visit to the Federal Trade Commision (FTC) Consumer Information website will also provide you with a listing of recent scam alerts.

Most of all, always be attentive to what you open in your inbox. When in doubt press delete!

Stats from Symantec 2018 ISTR, Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash