Top 5 clues for spotting
an e-mail scam:
Clue No. 1: Check the spelling
Scammers are notorious for their lack of basic spelling and
grammar skills. Look for misspelled words and incomplete or
awkwardly written sentences. It's not uncommon for a scam e-mail
that is purportedly from a reputable and well known organization
to misspell the name of that organization! For example, one e-mail
scam aimed at Facebook users spelled the name of the site in
Clue No. 2: Who signed it?
If it's a legitimate e-mail from a business, it will be signed
with a person's name and contact information, but if it signs off
with something vague, such as "Customer Support," be wary.
Clue No. 3: DOES THE E-MAIL SCREAM AT YOU IN ALL CAPS?
Be especially aware of e-mails that try to get your attention by
using all capital letters, especially in the subject line. Using
all caps has long been viewed as online shouting. It just isn't
done. The authors of scam e-mails tend to write prose that is
over-the-top and very emotional. In addition to a lot of capital
letters, look for an excess of exclamation points and dire
warnings, such as "Urgent!" or "Danger!"
Clue No. 4: The e-mail has an executable attachment
Phishers can only scam you if you let them. And you do just that
if you download e-mail attachments, which can contain computer
viruses. Since a favorite way to send a scam e-mail is by making
it look as if it were sent to you by someone in your e-mail
address book, don't be fooled by the sender's name. Never download
an attachment unless you are sure it's legitimate.
Clue No. 5: The e-mail has a link to a Web site
As more people have learned they shouldn't download attachments
from strangers, scammers have caught on. Instead of attaching a
file, they include a clickable link to a Web site. Click on that
link, and you might be asked to provide personal information. Do
it, and you've been scammed. For example, you might receive an
e-mail that appears to be from your bank, offering you a very low
interest rate on a mortgage or home equity loan. If you click on
the link, it could ask your name, bank account number and online
banking password to get onto the site. Don't ever provide this
information if you got on the site by clicking a link in an
One final word of advice: Never, ever respond to a spam
e-mail. By doing so you confirm your e-mail account is active, and
you'll likely be inundated with more spam.
By Cathryn Conroy
Spam is annoying, but phishing is dangerous. E-mail phishing scams
have one purpose: theft.