How to spot an Email Scam

I believe everyone should have received "You've won 20 Million Dollars but we need your personal particulars first" scam emails before, and most of us just chuck it in the trash without thinking much about it.


But have you ever wondered how to spot a scam email? Most of them are actually quite easy to spot, unless you've been targeted by some top notch scamming syndicate.


Here's a few tips on how to spot the tell-tale signs of a scam coming through your inbox.


1. Check the senders email address

 
So you say you're from Google or Microsoft. In that case, I wonder why your email address is from the domain centurylink.net. [For those of you who don't know what 'domain' means, it's basically whatever company name that is after the "@" sign in the email address.]

And you say your name is Emeka James, but apparently your email account is "hgewfc". Yup. Sounds real professional and legitimate to me.

Popped over to centurylink.net and yup, it doesn't seem to have any connection with google or microsoft whatsoever. 



The website looks like some google/yahoo wannabe. So this person probably created a random account with this website and started sending out mass mails.


You should also have an idea of all the free email domains out there where anyone can register any email address under that domain as long as it has not already been taken. Some of these free email domains include google.com, yahoo.com, microsoft.com etc

For example, emails from these accounts may not be as legitimate as they may seem:
lucy.goh00@yahoo.com
lotteryMachine@google.com
prizewinnersgroup@microsoft.com

Don't be fooled just because they have a yahoo or google domain to back them up. Anyone else can register one too. So what should you do next?



2. Check the URLs of any links in the email

Always be very wary of website links in any emails. Most links just bring you to other webpages on the Internet, but some of them might even be able to screw your computer up pretty badly if you just click on them.




If you leave your mouse arrow over any link [DO NOT CLICK IT!], most browsers will show you a preview of the webpage that you will be directed to if you click the link.

So you say you are from Gmail or google, my account is going to be disabled and you want me to click a link to activate my account? Please tell me why the website is pointing to cruv.coffeecup.com/.... instead of google.com/.....





3. Check out the images

Some scam emails come complete with official looking images on the signatures and attachments. One good way of checking the legitimacy of an email is by scrutinizing the quality of any images on that email or its attachments. I recently received this attachment from one of those emails...



So, just because you have the Gmail, Outlook and Windows 8 pictures on your PDF file you expect me to fall into your trap? First of all, most companies have strict policies on how their logos can and should be used. Take the Gmail logo in this attachment for example.

Have you ever seen such a HUGE Gmail logo anywhere on the official google websites or gmail email service? Many companies have restrictions on the maximum or minimum size of the logo as it just doesn't look good to have something so huge.

Another tip is to zoom in and check on the quality of the images. If the person is really from whatever company he claims he's from, he should only be using their high resolution images for logos and signatures.

Even after zooming in 300 to 500% of the actual size, these high resolution images should still be clear, sharp and very detailed, especially on attachments.



The gmail logo here looks a little blurry and not very sharp after zooming in to about 300%. A tell-tale sign that it was just copied from the some official Gmail webpage and pasted into the attachment. And if that isn't obvious enough, check out the domain of the email address that he's asking you to send your reply to even though he says he's from google or microsoft:




4. Just use Common Sense



I understand that common sense is not common to everyone, and what is common sense to one person may not even make sense to another. But the key thing is to be smart about it. Think it through.

Microsoft and Google have been competitors since the dawn of time. Why would they suddenly come together and want to give you money?

And of course, if all fails, just remember this simple rule: If it's looks too good to be true, it probably is.

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