Are you seeing more scam emails in your inbox? Probably, because scammers are getting more people to act. And more companies send updates via email. As a result, fake emails from banks to UPS are becoming more authentic and frequent. And if you accidentally click on a scam, you’ll probably get more. You’ve demonstrated ‘I’m not sure what a scam is’ behavior.
Everyone knows there’s a problem. You’ll find many preventative resources out there with a list of tips. But it’s hard to remember all of them in the moment. If you’re like most people, you’re doing something else or are out and about when an email comes in. The three most important things to remember in spotting an email scam are:
1. Verify the Sender: Before doing anything (like downloading an attachment or clicking on a link), verify the sender is who they say they are. Hover your cursor over the sender's email address (or click the down arrow next to ‘sender’) to reveal the actual domain. Legitimate organizations will have professional email addresses, while scammers might use variations or misspellings of the official domain. They could also be impersonating your friend or family members, so verify their email address if something doesn’t seem right.
2. Beware of Urgency: We’ve all seen those late night infomercials - (It’s a limited time offer! Act now!) Pretty much the same principle. Don’t fall for “You’ll be locked out of your account without immediate action or payment” and other phrases. No company wants to lose a customer by proactively deleting your account. If you want to double check before you act, contact them directly, by calling the phone number on their official website. Don’t use the number in the email without first cross referencing it with the one on the company’s website. My dad has actually put all his financial numbers in his phone’s contacts, so he’s got them on speed dial.
3. Check for Spelling and Grammar: Many email scams originate from non-native English speakers, resulting in grammatical errors. If you notice numerous mistakes in an email from a supposedly reputable company, it's likely a scam. However, as more scammers use ChatGPT to write their emails, this will become less effective as a flag.