It’s getting really hard to tell these days whether an email you’ve received is a spam email or a legitimate email; that is because spammers have improved their methods of forging the appearance of emails to make them appear as if they’re from legitimate sources.
Because of that it’s more important than ever to know what to look out for so that you don’t open or click on links within those emails.
How to tell if an email is legitimate
Here is a list of what to ask yourself if you’re not sure if an email is legitimate:
- Do you have an account with the service that’s emailing you?
For example, if you are receiving an email from PayPal, do you have an account with PayPal?
- Do any links in the email look like they’re suspicious?
If you hover your mouse over any link in the email, it will show you the full URL of the link; many bad guys will often make it look like a legitimate link at first glance and the only way to tell if it’s correct is by mousing over the link to check (do not click on the link!)
- Are there any spelling errors in the email?
Bad guys include those to eliminate more tech-savvy people that might otherwise waste their time through not being conn-able all the way through.
- Does the email address they sent the email from have an unusual domain name in it?
For example, if you have received an email from a source claiming to be PayPal, does the domain name in the email address have totallyrealpaypal.com in it? That domain is obviously going to be a source of spam email, but actual spammers will try to hide it more cleverly than that.
- What information are they trying to collect from me?
Any legitimate service provider will typically not ask you for login details, credit card information, or any other sensitive information out of the blue, so be wary of any email asking you to enter any sensitive information into a login page without you explicitly requesting them to contact you for it.
I’m still not sure, what should I do?
If after asking yourself those questions you still aren’t sure whether or not an email is spam, the best thing to do is to contact the provider who the email is claiming to be from to check with them; they will be able to let you know whether or not they sent you the email.
Why do they send spam?
The main reason spammers will send you fraudulent emails is to try to get you to login to a fake login page so that you accidentally give them your login details to a particular service.
They then will try those same login details with other websites to see if you share passwords between multiple sites and see whether they can hit pay-dirt somewhere (e.g. bank accounts, or use your email address for something nefarious, etc). This is one of the main reasons why we highly recommend having different passwords for all the websites you visit.
If you share passwords between multiple sites then you’re at substantial risk, particularly if you share the same login details on quite a few.
Now if you are worried that keeping track of a different password for each service you use could begin to become a headache (due to having to remember them all or keep them written down somewhere), we have a solution for that.
We use LastPass internally and recommend that everyone use it to securely manage your passwords to the websites you use; LastPass allows you to use different passwords for everything which greatly improves security and will also auto-fill the login details into the websites you visit, making it easy to use.
If you have any questions about anything in this article, feel free to contact us by emailing our support team!