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How to Identify Spam Emails

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Nobody likes receiving spam emails. Unfortunately, we’re left without a choice but to accept the fact that it’s inevitable.  

Especially now that email filters are becoming more and more stringent, scammers have come up with new innovative ways to trick people into providing their personal information via email.  

Once they obtain sensitive details such as your password, credit card number, or Social Security number, they’ll be able to access your email, bank, and other accounts. Alternatively, they could sell them to other scammers. Either way, your business will be in total jeopardy.

Here’s the good news: you can actually distinguish a real email from a fake one, and it’s not that complicated. The trick is to know the red flags that someone is trying to scam you.

To keep you from falling victim to junk and phishing emails, this Miami SEO company has listed the most common signs telling you that the message you’re reading isn’t really what it seems; rather, it’s there to deceive you into disclosing private details about you or your business.  

Before we dive into them, however, it's useful to outline the three types of spamming tactics hackers use to lure people to divulge intimate details:

Phishing Links

phishing concept

Phishing links are designed to fool recipients into providing their personal information, login credentials, bank card details, and so on. The cybercriminal then proceeds to use the data for illegal purposes.

Here are two other scenarios that could happen if you unknowingly click on a phishing link:

  • Malware software may be installed on your device, infecting it and collecting confidential data for the attacker
  • The attacker may exploit the people on your contact list by sending them phishing emails as well

Emails with phishing links are usually tailored to look exactly like an actual notification from a website that the victim is comfortable with. The spoofed message will create a reason for recipients to visit the added link, such as informing them to update their password or confirm their account ownership.  

Fake Attachments

Stricter email filters mean having to use fake attachments for cybercriminals. While many of these attachments contain a phishing link, some may include ransomware, which is a type of malware that stops users from accessing their files or devices until they pay a certain amount of money to the hacker.  

As soon as you open a fake attachment, the ransomware will automatically start downloading to your computer. Once completed, it will hold your files and data hostage until you pay the hacker for its release. Worse, it can completely lock you out of your computer.  

Spear Phishing

Phishing and spear phishing are similar in that both deceive users to click on links to obtain sensitive information. However, whereas phishing attacks prioritize quantity, spear phishing is all about quality. In other words, spear phishing involves targeting a specific individual or organization.

Ways to Identify a Spam Email

cyber thief holding a laptop asking for password

Now that you’re familiar with the most common types of spam emails, you’re ready to learn the how’s of spotting emails with hidden agendas. Be vigilant and pay extra attention to the following:

1. Name of the Sender

It’s not uncommon for scammers to change their email addresses constantly to avoid getting caught by large Internet Service Providers. Many of them would choose names that are randomly generated and keep on changing them.  

So, the next time you encounter a message that comes from someone with an unusual username like “8gasgr2g67wa” on their name, you’ll know right away that it’s not legit.  

2. Email Domain  

Unless the email was sent by an extremely small operation, bear in mind that no legitimate company will deliver official emails from a publicly free-to-use domain such as @gmail.com or @hotmail.com. Not even a Google employee uses the @gmail.com domain when sending a message.  

Always remember that the most important part of the email address is what comes after the @ symbol. It reveals the organization from which the email has been sent.  

3. Unknown Links or Attachments

Receiving an email from a source unfamiliar to you may already sound suspicious enough, so how much more if it contains a couple of links or attachments? Your gut will most likely tell you to avoid clicking on them. We 100% agree.  

There’s a massive chance that it’s a phishing link or a malicious attachment to destroy your data. Your best bet is to ignore them, delete the email, and maybe even block the sender.  

4. Sounds Too Good to Be True

An email claiming that you won a huge sum of money or a free trip to somewhere luxurious is another tactic hackers commonly use to obtain private information from unwitting targets. Though it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book, many scammers continue to use it.

5. Creates a Sense of Urgency

Scammers want you to fall for their email as quickly as possible. This means that emails asking you to do something ASAP merit increased skepticism.

Perpetrators might write subject lines saying that someone’s trying to make unauthorized login attempts to your account, or that your account has been suspended. When you encounter such a message, don’t act immediately. Disregard the message and transfer it to the trash folder.  

As a Miami SEO company that has been around for years, the thought of sending such an email has never crossed our minds.

6. Requests for Personal Information

Reputable companies almost never ask for sensitive details via email. If ever they do, they will have secure data collection methods to prove that the request was indeed made by them.  

7. Generic Greeting

Emails that open with generic greetings like “Dear Valued Customer” and “Dear Sir/Madam” often suggest that they’re bogus, considering that almost all companies are now personalizing their emails by addressing customers with their first names to get their attention.  

8. Poor Grammar & Spelling

Legitimate emails from organizations normally go through an editing process before being sent out to make sure they’re free of errors and typos. We can definitely attest to this as a Miami SEO company.

Emails from scammers, on the other hand, are delivered straight away without editing.

Worried That Your Emails Might Be Going to Spam?

phone showing different email folders and focusing on spam

Unfortunately, there’s a chance that some of the messages you send to your contact list end up in their spam folders. There are many reasons why your emails could be getting misplaced in spam: a weak subject, a missing opt-out link, misleading links, too many images, and more.  

If you want to have the reassurance that your emails won’t be marked as spam, you can enlist the professional help of a Miami SEO company like Digital Resource. Our email marketing specialists will do everything they can to ensure that your messages go directly to the inbox. Plus, you can always count on them to craft email content that drives leads and conversions.  

Contact us today for more information!

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