What to look for (or what I look at), to avoid an email scam during this holiday season…or really any season.
One of the things, that I am constantly saying about email safety is exactly what I’ll say here as well. There are certain things that you need to look at from an unexpected or unusual email.
Starting from the top of the email and working our way down.
This isn’t a perfect one and could be the least telling, as some people are night people…but sometimes a suspicious email will come outside of normal hours. For example, if you know that I’m in bed religiously by 10pm every night…an email from me at 2am might be a little suspicious.
Do you recognize the senders email address? Not the name that is displayed, but the actual email address. Make sure the email address isn’t misspelled like amaz0n or some other way that if you glanced quickly you can overlook. You can also look for signs it could be a domain trying to look like it (amazon.com.moocoow.hacker). The first part looks right…but the rest is suspicious.
Are you in the TO address? Some scammers target a lot of people, so they’ll hide who it went to…sometimes blank or sometimes another email address made to look legitimate. If it’s not you, be suspicious. If there are other people on the chain, and you don’t know any of them and it’s the first time you are getting it…it might be suspicious.
While not always as easy to spot suspicious subject lines you can, look for misspellings, ad RE: which looks like the response to an email you didn’t see before or even language that makes it seem important and you must act now…all should be look at suspiciously
This is the meat and potatoes of the scammers email. Does it make me want to react immediately without thought? For example, “for the next 30 minutes only, you can get the iPhone 16 for free by answering these questions” or “We’ve detected fraud on your account, click this link within the next 24 hours to dispute charges”. They instill a sense of urgency, so that you’ll ignore the signs.
Especially for the holiday season, you’ll get messages about purchases that didn’t go through or that your package is held up and we need information or money to release it. As we’re all buying gifts around this time…and that package could be for little Timmy…you urge is react quickly to solve that…and some may be real…but go to the website to check (and not by clicking any links)
Another basic give away, is that there are misspellings or bad grammar (unless you’re emailing with me). Now from people you may know that’s normal…but companies who have their emails as templates it’s not.
Always be cautious of links in email, take a second to hover your mouse over the link to make sure it’s taking you were it should. Make sure it’s the correct domain, not misspelled or a different site. Attachments, don’t open unless you expect an attachment.