Email Scams - How to Identify Them

Email scams have been around since the 1980’s when the technology became widely used. In the early days they were easy to spot. You’d receive an email from an unknown source trying to sell adult content or blue pills. If you were lucky these emails would inform you of an inheritance from a rich relative or contain a marriage proposal from a Nigerian prince.

These days email scams are more sophisticated and are known as phishing emails. Phishing emails are emails claiming to be from reputable companies to encourage individuals to reveal personal information. For instance;  passwords, birth dates and credit card numbers.

Phishing emails use a number of tactics to get your details, they may:
– Advise of suspicious activity on your account.
– Claim there is a problem with your account or payment information.
– Ask you to confirm personal information.
– Include attachments such as receipts or invoices.
– Ask you to make a payment.

As mentioned, these emails will be disguised to look like they are from a reputable company to instill trust. Popular businesses include banks and financial institutions, PayPal, Netflix, eBay, and Amazon.

For example, currently there are a number of fraudulent Australia Post emails being sent advising customers that their delivery is on hold. The email is requesting payment for dispatch of the parcel and contains a link that takes you to a fake Australia Post website. This particular scam is designed to steal your personal and financial details. 

You can find out more information regarding this scam here.

How to Identify a Scam Email

While your spam filter will catch most of these emails, it is handy to know how to identify and avoid phishing emails.
1. Check the email address of the sender – look for spelling mistakes and domains like Gmail, Hotmail, or Outlook.
2. Check the URL address contained in the email – like email addresses, look for spelling mistakes.
3. Check the validity of the source – If you receive an email that looks suspicious – compare it to a previous email you received from the company.
4. Check the greeting in the email – if your hold an account with the business, it is unlikely that the email greeting would be generic eg. ‘dear customer’.

To help customers identify real and fake emails, businesses often have a scam reporting and alerts page on their webpage. If you do receive one of these emails in your inbox, delete it immediately and report it via the businesses scam reporting page.