For most of us working in the digital age, email is a part of our daily lives. And most of us can easily spot a bogus email when we see one. Sometimes email scammers act under trustworthy names, such as the post office or well-known local groups, to try to obtain personal information. Always beware of any messages requesting you to visit a hyper link or to provide personal information.
Keep these guidelines in mind to determine if a questionable email is a scam.
1. View the sender’s addressLook at the sender’s email address to see if it relates to the message. If the offer is coming from a business, the sender should use a business email address, not a mysterious one. For example, An email offer from the Aiken Standard should be from firstname.lastname@example.org, not email@example.com. Although, a message from a recognizable email address does not guarantee that the email is a legitimate offer.
An email account can be highjacked, and any responses to the email can be redirected to another inbox, leaving the owner of the email account unaware of the situation. This often is the case when you receive an email from a friend or family member claiming to be mugged and stranded and needs money transferred immediately.
2. Improper use of languagePay attention to the language. In some cases, the emails are translated with online language tools or appear to be written by someone who doesn’t have a strong grasp of the English language. This is one of the most recognizable signs that an email is not to be trusted.
3. No unsubscribe link, physical address
The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets rules for commercial email, requires companies to provide an opt-out option in all emails. You have the right to stop receiving unwanted emails from a business. Emails should have an “unsubscribe” link, or a clear option of how to unsubscribe, as well as a physical address in the message.
If the email does not contain this information, it was not created with the best practices in mind. In this case, mark the email as spam which will let your email provider know you no longer wish to receive emails from the sender.
4. Visible recipientsIn some cases you will see a long list of recipients in the “To” field, revealing that a group of people have all been sent the same email. Your email address is private information, and the sender of the email should respect that. If you can view the other recipients’ addresses, they can view your address as well. If you know the sender and aren’t worried about the contents of the message, do not let this worry you. If you do not know the sender or any of the other recipients – that is when it becomes an issue.
5. Vague signatureScammers attempt to seem professional by using a customary signature at the end of the message. An email signature contains brief personal information such as job title, phone number and other contact information. If the signature is vague and does not contain useful information, the sender doesn’t want to be contacted. A sincere offer would provide useful contact information.
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