7 Tips to Avoid Getting Fooled by Email Scams

Beware of strange senders and outrageous offers in your inbox

Every day, 156 million phishing emails are sent to inboxes just like yours, and scams are getting harder to distinguish from the real thing. So, how do you make sure you aren’t one of the many to fall victim to an email scam?

Here are 7 tips to help defend against cybercriminals and scams:

1. If it sounds too good to be true, it is
There is no free lunch and there never will be. Beware of the old ploy: “send us X amount of money and we’ll send you a check for 100 times more.” Fall for this and you probably won’t see your money again.

2. Check the sender
If the email address looks suspicious, it probably is, but sometimes the scammers are sneaky. Just the smallest alterations (misspellings, incorrect versions) to an email address may indicate it’s a scam. Check to see if the message is from a recognizable domain name that is linked to the actual sender’s name.

3. Do not click any links or call any numbers
This is email scam prevention 101. If you get an incredible mortgage refinance offer, don’t click on the links or call the number listed in the message; and avoid copying and pasting links from the email message into a new browser window. Instead, use a keyword search to find the company or website separately from the email to determine if it’s legitimate.

4. Watch for grammar and misspellings
A red flag in a scam mail is lack of professionalism. Typos, misspellings and awkwardly worded sentences are a clue. If it reads wrong, be suspicious.

5. Delete emails that just don’t look right
Most legitimate messages will be written with HTML and will be a mix of text and images. A poorly constructed phishing email may show an absence of images, including the lack of the company’s logo. If the email is all plain text and looks different than what you’re used to seeing from that sender, it is best to go with your gut feeling and ignore the message.

6. Be wary of personal information requests
One tactic commonly used by cybercriminals is person information request. If an email requests personal details, especially regarding banking or social security numbers, it is likely a scam. Even if it seems to be coming from a legitimate company, most professionals and legitimate companies would never request that information via email. If you’re concerned about an alert, contact the company directly (be sure to look up the company’s phone number; never call a phone number listed in the email).

7. Scam emails can appear to come from people you know
Scammers can hack email accounts and will usually send fraudulent emails to others under the account holder’s name. If something doesn’t seem right about the email, contact the sender directly using a different form of communication and ask if they sent you the email.

Email scams continue to be a problem for email users worldwide. Compromised accounts not only cause headaches for at-home users, but business emails are also at risk. If a hacker makes his or her way into a company’s email system, it can lead to security issues and a drop in overall brand trust and loyalty.

Be vigilant about the emails and offers you receive. The more careful you are, the better chance you have of not getting fooled by email scams.

Updated: Sep 8, 2021