Even though people have been taught to not trust every email they get, email scams still abound. How can you tell if an email is a scam? Are there clues within the email to suggest whether or not the scam you are getting really is legit?
There actually are quite a lot of clues to tell you the truth of emails. We’ll look at a one of my emails that I’ve gotten for one of my many emails addresses and look at just how to tell whether or not an email is a scam!
Checking The Sender And Receiver
The first thing you want to do is take a look at who the email is from, and who it is sent to. If you don’t recognize the email address, that could be the first indicator that the email may be a scam.
For example, as you’ll notice below, I got an email address from someone at test@*******.com. You’ll also notice that it’s from someone (supposedly) called CummingsO. Just for the record, I don’t know anyone with that name.
Just because I don’t know this person doesn’t mean that it is a scam. Looking at several different issues will help detect if it’s a scam or not, but if it comes from someone that you don’t know, then it can be the first indication that this email isn’t legit.
The next thing you want to take a look at is to whom is sent. Is it sent just to you? Is it sent to others? Does it even show who it is sent to?
As you can see above, the person who sent this email out sent it to an undisclosed number of recipients. Most likely, they got a large number of emails, and decided to BCC all of us.
Typically, when sending an email, there are three options on how to send an email to someone:
- To: You are sending the email specifically to this person, and they are supposed to be the one who will answer it (assuming it needs answering).
- CC (Carbon Copy): You’ll see someone on an email if you want them to get a copy of the email (for example, if you want them to be aware of what’s going/what’s being written).
- BCC (Blind Carbon Copy): The only difference between BCC and CC is that no one will know that they are added and receiving the email (hence it being called a Blind Carbon Copy).
How would you use these? Well, let’s pretend that I’m going to my parent’s place for an evening. I may email my mom explaining that I want to come over. I may CC my dad on it as well, so that he’s aware of what we’re planning to do.
I could even say in the email that I wanted to bring a friend over as well, and BCC my friend on the email. My friend would get the email, and see who it was sent to (my mom and dad), but both my parents wouldn’t know that I had also BCC‘ed my friend on the email.
So back to the email that I received. The person who sent the email didn’t directly send it to any one person. Most likely, as noted above, they BCC’ed several people the same email.
If you don’t know who it’s sent from, and it doesn’t have an email it is sent ‘To’, then this is another good indicator that this email is a scam. But there are also other things you can check as well.
What Is The Subject Line?
The subject line helps people know quickly what the email is about. For example, if the subject line read “Email Changed“, you might realize that the reason you don’t recognize the email address it was sent from was because your friend changed their email address.
This specific email that we’ve been looking at came with an email subject line that read “Waiting For Your Quick Reply My Prince.”
Hmm, I’m a prince? I must be a pretty poor prince…
As you can see, all the indications of this email show that it probably isn’t something that is worth my time. You can also see from the screenshot above that they sent an attachment as well with the email!
But let’s take a look at the actual email, and see if we can gather anything else from it.
Reading The Actual Email
There is a misconception around that many people incorrectly believe. They think that opening an email may make them get a virus on their computer. That is entirely false.
Opening an email should never be able to place malware on the device you’re using. If you open an attachment, that’s a little different (which we’ll discuss later). But just opening an email to read what it says isn’t going to compromise your computer.
Taking a look at what is said in the email is the next best step to check and see whether the email is a scam. Below is the text of what I got within the email that we’ve been looking at.
Hi. Respected stranger.
I wish to know how much you interest in search and acquaintance with new and wonderful girl?
I’m Anita. I am very merry, kind and positive girl. But I’m still single and very tired of kind of life.
So I go to a dating agency and found you email.
In fact, I’m search for real man for a serious relationship and even marriage in future.
I’ll be happy if we will find our common interests and our acquaintance is most wonderful moment in our later life.
I do not know how you are interested in continue our communication therefore greater detail I’ll write about myself later!
I will wait your letter! See you soon. Anita.
Several things immediately jump out at me that flag this email as a scam to me:
She doesn’t address my first name. There is no mention of my name, nor even anything about who I am. All she says is “Respected Stranger”. If this email is truly to me, she should be able to take an educated guess and come up with my name (since it’s right within my email address).
She ‘found my email’ on a place that I didn’t share it on. This is a ploy that scammers will use to make it sound like they actually found your email somewhere.
They think that most people have a dating account somewhere, and thus add in that they found it on a dating site, so that you make a connection (even though there is no connection) on where it might have come from.
I don’t have a dating account, nor have I used the email address this was sent to for any dating sites, so I can almost immediately rule this out as an email that just isn’t legit.
She seems to use two different names. When we first looked at who it was sent from, we found that it was sent from someone who was called “CummingsO”. But yet she ends her email by saying her name is “Anita”. If there are two different names, then that also can suggest that the email is a scam.
What About Email Attachments?
The email that we’ve been looking at is a scam, no question about it. But it does help show another powerful clue that something may not be right. And that is what was attached.
If you’re receiving attachments from people that you don’t know, do not open those attachments. They most likely have a virus within them that will infect your computer after you open the attachment.
Even if you know the person, be very careful when you open attachments. Many people will get malware on their computers because they received an attachment that had malware in it, opened it, and thus allowed the virus to spread.
And it doesn’t matter what the attachment is. It could be a PDF, a jpg, or even a text file. Each one of them can be embedded with malicious code that will try to take control of your computer if it has the chance.
If you have anti-virus on your computer, it’s always best to have the anti-virus software check your attachments before you open them. It could save you a lot of time, and money, in the long run.
Links Might Not Send You To The Right Location
Many scam emails will have links within them too, trying you to get you to click through the link, and in the end, be able to download viruses onto your computer.
So whenever you see a link, it’s always good to check where it will go.
For example, notice that when you hover your mouse pointer over the words “RIGHT HERE“, you’ll see in the lower left-hand corner of your browser that it links directly to this website.
Now, something can be done that you might not realize. Just because someone writes out a URL address, like google.com, doesn’t mean that it will go to that address. You’ll notice that When you hover over the above address, it’s actually going to this site as well.
So it’s extremely important that you always make sure to look at the link before you actually click through it. If the link is to a URL that you’ve never seen before, then the safest thing to do is not click on it. It’s better to go to your favorite search engine, and type the URL in, and see if it’s a good URL or not.
If the links in the email are ones that you weren’t expecting or don’t recognize, it could be an indication that the email is a scam.
For example, while writing this, I got an email from someone who wanted me to essentially become their boyfriend. They had a link to click to if I wanted more info. Hovering over the link, I found that it went to some URL that I had never seen before.
Therefore, I choose to ignore the email, and let the person find someone else to have a ‘romantic relationship’ with.
How To Tell If An Email Is A Scam!
To summarize, an email can be detected to be a scam by looking at the email itself, and seeing how it was created. It’s not that hard to tell, provided you make sure to be very careful with what you open, and what you click on. Below is provided a quick run down of the steps that you can take to check if an email is a scam:
- Check to see if you know the email address, and who sent the email
- Check to see if it the email was sent only to you, to others, or if it is unknown to whom it was sent to
- Open the email and see what the email actually says. See if the person says your name, or if they say stuff that isn’t true
- Even if it’s from someone that you know, check and double check the attachment (assuming there is one) against anti-virus software, or against virus detection websites
- When someone sends you a link, check the link before actually clicking through the link.
And that’s all there is too it!
Now you can go back through and check all those emails that you were unsure about, and see if they were scams or not. No longer will you have to worry about getting scammed, provided you follow the steps, and make sure to be very careful with emails that you weren’t expecting on getting!