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How to Spot Fake Emails

Fake Email - How to spot a suspicious email
Fake Email – How to spot a suspicious email

With the continual surge of spam, it can sometimes be easy to spot a fake email. However, among the hundreds of spam emails you may receive a day, there may be that one email can go undetectable.  

Some emails, disguised as genuine, aim to deceive you through phishing or harm you through sextortion. So how can you spot a fake email? We’ll dive into how to spot fake email in this blog post. 

Example of a Fake Email

With the increase of users’ passwords and personal details being shared in the bodies of emails, even going as far as blackmailing recipients with demands of payments through Bitcoin. 

The demands are the same: pay up or risk being publicly humiliated. 

Cyber breaches are starting to dominate internationally, with hackers reportedly have stolen $1.4 billion in 2022.

Fast forward to October, and UK bank customers have lost £500 million to scams in the first half of 2018 – with Express.co.uk detailing how companies posing as the DVLA are finding scamming success. 

These scams have been getting increasingly popular since 2018, and in 2024, aren’t stopping anytime soon. But we can ensure that the correct information is being shared and the proper steps can be taken before any bitcoin is deposited wrong. 

Tips to Spot a Fake Email

Here are our top tips to spot a fake email.

Check the Sender

The best way to spot a fake email is to check if the sender is recongised and using a legitimate appropriate domain. It can be easy to eliminate a fake email by quickly checking the senders details. In this case, click on the sender and view more information. If the email address is something like amazonitem20@gmail.com, it’s going to be a fake email pretending to be Amazon. 

So, before anything else, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Does the domain match the company’s name? 
  • Is the domain suspicious and look fishy? 
Check the email domain
Check the email domain

Check the Company

On the subject of checking, if you need clarification on whether an email is fake or not from a third-party claiming association with a more significant entity, use online tools like the Companies House checker to see if they’re legitimate.  

However, even if the business is on the companies house, that does not mean it’s not a scam. 

You can search for a business on companies house here: Find and update company information – GOV.UK

Companies House
Companies House

Personalisation

Incredibly, during shock and panic, it’s easy to overlook whether the email refers to personal details. If the email says, ‘Dear customer’ and doesn’t refer to your name, you can eliminate it from a legitimate source 99.9% of the time.

It’s important to remember that emails from banks, financial companies and insurers will always refer to yourself using your name.

It’s equally important to look at the email’s grammar, formatting and general layout, too. The email came from something other than a genuine source because it was blank and bare. Equally, if the grammar seems weird or there are spelling mistakes, you can guarantee it’s from someone other than an employee.

Whilst a lack of personalisation is common in these fake emails, we recommend that you be thorough and utilise the other steps to ensure an email is genuine. This is because it is easy for scammers to find your name; in most cases, the email will contain your first and last name. In addition to your name, there will likely be further information about you due to data breaches. You can check to see if you’ve been involved in a data breach here: Have I Been Pwned

Avoid Clicking Attachments

Aside from receiving a fake looking email in your inbox, the attachments are where the real danger lies.  

When you are contacted by a company you are associated with, they rarely attach any bills, documents or other information. Instead, they will send a link, prompting you to log into your account hosted with that company.  

Why do scammers use attachments, then? Commonly, the attachments contain malicious macros designed to unload on the recipient’s computer and then infest it with a virus. So avoid opening attachments because the embedded virus will start spreading to the computer as soon as you open the file.  

As a good rule of thumb, high-risk attachment file types like .exe, .scr .zip, .com and .bat are typically types of malware

However, scammers now utilise both attachments and links. For example, a popular OneDrive phishing email scam tries to convince a person to click the link to enter a fake website created by the scammers. The scammers will then use the login details and attempt to hack into the account, stealing personal data and invading privacy.

Ask for Expert Advice

If you still are unsure whether your computer could be infected or your data could be at risk, don’t hesitate to contact your IT support or contact an IT-savvy friend. 

If you’re a customer of Excellence IT, our IT technicians can combat malicious emails and backup your files before anything is lost, having the technology and protocol to protect your data with extra authentication and security checks. 

Implementing these steps in future could save you hours of worry and panic. 

If you’re not working with an IT support company, why not contact us today to see how we can help. We’re a cyber security first Managed Service Provider based in Cardiff, and cover areas such as Swansea and Bristol, too. 

Fill in the form below and an IT expert will be in touch shortly.

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