With so much communication flying around the digital world it can be very hard to identify the scams. Here’s an email scam quick tip: take a look at the email sender’s address. Ask yourself the simple question, how professional does the address of the sender look? There are no hard and fast rules to this, but trust your intuition for things that look “off.” If anything seems strange it is better to be safe than sorry and assume you are dealing with a scam.
As an example of what to look for: I just checked my own email and happened to receive a message from a company claiming to be “Hearing Aid Advice” wanting me to click on a link to view my receipt. This is obviously a scam for other reasons, but let’s just look at the sender’s email address. The user name is: info_1qpeJSQ5SweE coming from @news.jarixerpmzw.com. First ask yourself: does any part of their address look computer generated? The answer is yes. There are many random numbers and letters. Second question, does any part of the address identify itself clearly as the business claiming to contact you? The answer is no. Actually, the only readable words in the address are info and news. “Info” is a generic word a company might have as an email address, but “news” is a little concerning if they are trying to convince us this is a medical device company. A real business would have an email address that you could more clearly and intuitively connect back to their company. It would look clean and professional. Real businesses often spend a lot of money making sure their email addresses are clearly identifiable as being from them, so keep that in mind.
Here are two pro-tips: Scams often prey on older adults, so be wary of messages geared towards an older crowd – such as hearing aids in my above example. Scammers will often pretend to be real companies you have heard of on the assumption that their name recognition will make you less likely to be suspicious of their fake messages. I personally get a lot of email from fake Home Depot accounts. Luckily, you can use this same technique to sift these out as well. Just look at the email address and ask yourself if it is reasonable to assume a company, like Home Depot, would use an address that looked like that. If anything makes you take pause, then it is always better to be safe than sorry.
So we are pretty sure the message is SPAM, what do we do? First of all, don’t do any of the things the message asks you to do. Delete it, mark it as SPAM, or report it if your email has that as an option. Don’t otherwise reply to it or interact with it. That will only result in more similar messages from that sender. Scammers want you to interact with their messages. So don’t give them what they want.