Protect yourself from email fraud by looking for these 4 red flags.

It’s something most of us deal with every week, if not every day: fraudulent emails. Whether it’s a prince from Nigeria, a long-lost relative, or an impostor email from a well-known business or group, we face more fraudulent emails today than ever before. Most get caught in your spam or junk folder, but how can you distinguish those that somehow find their way into your inbox?  

4 Ways to Spot a Fraudulent Email

October 13, 2016

Protect yourself from email fraud by looking for these 4 red flags.

It’s something most of us deal with every week, if not every day: fraudulent emails. Whether it’s a prince from Nigeria, a long-lost relative, or an impostor email from a well-known business or group, we face more fraudulent emails today than ever before. Most get caught in your spam or junk folder, but how can you distinguish those that somehow find their way into your inbox?

The following tips can help you spot fraud to protect yourself from phishing, fraud, and identity thieves.

Check grammar and spelling

One way to identify a scam email is by scanning the email for grammar and spelling mistakes. If you find tons of errors, it is probably illegitimate. Many times scam emails are created by non-English speakers and are full of misspellings, grammar errors, and typos. Legitimate businesses use copywriters and editors to create their emails, so if you spy multiple errors and typos, that’s a red flag that it is probably not coming from the business it says it is.

Pay attention to the greeting

Does the email begin with a simple greeting or by addressing you by your email account name? If you’re receiving a generic greeting such as Hello customer or one using your email address, such as Dear Beth112, be weary. If you’ve received a legitimate email from the business in question before, search your inbox for previous emails to see how they greeted you. If they include a consistent greeting, and then you receive one without the same greeting, that points to an impostor.

Do some research

Some fraudulent emails can look so similar to real, authentic emails it can be hard to tell the difference. If you can’t seem to spot any red flags but are still unsure of its authenticity, do an internet search of the company in question with the words fraud, scam, phishing, or illegitimate attached. This will lead you to images and descriptions of common fraudulent emails others have received, helping you identify if the email is a scam. 

If a sale seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always check the legitimate website as reference to avoid scams like this one.

This seemingly legitimate email from Pandora Jewelry is actually a scam—photos and official new stories can be found by simply searching Pandora Email Scams in Google.



Review email addresses and websites

Always review the email address and website links in any email before clicking on them. If something is misspelled, has a different domain extension than usual (such a .com or .net), or the web address simply looks suspicious, don’t click! One way to check the authenticity of a website is through EV Certificates:

“If you think the URL is legitimate and you click on the link, you can still check that it's a trusted website and business. Modern browsers like Safari 5, Firefox 7, Google Chrome, and Internet Explorer 10 display the company name in green if the site has been issued an Extended Validation (EV) Certificate and is a legitimate website/business,” according to Apple.com 

“Modern browsers display the company name in green if the site has been issued an Extended Validation (EV) Certificate and is a legitimate website/business.” Apple.com 

Sometimes fraud sites can look almost identical to the real thing, such as this PayPal fake. A smart strategy to take if you believe a web address in an email is fake is to open the legitimate site in a second tab and compare the two sites. If you see any major differences or errors, this is a sign that the web address in question is not authentic.

Also look to see if the address uses http instead of https; this usually means the site is not secure and could be fraudulent.

When it comes to protecting your identity and information, always err on the side of caution. If you have suspicions about an email, always do thorough research and use some of the strategies above to confirm whether it’s real or fraudulent.

Keep your accounts protected from fraud with this simple strategy

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