How to tell if an email is a scam

Updated 8/31/2020 from

Email comes in many forms, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell the difference between a real message and a scam. Here are some of the many indicators that suggest the email you received is fraudulent.

Incomplete or misspelled words

One of the clues to a fraudulent email is poor spelling, grammar, or punctuation. Emails from professional organizations and companies are very unlikely to contain any of these errors. In contrast, fraudulent emails are often written by people who may not have strong spelling or grammar skills, or are writing in a hurry. If you receive an email that looks legitimate but contains spelling or grammatical errors, it should be deleted.

Requires immediate action

If the email requires immediate action, it’s best to call the company directly and inquire about the legitimacy of the message. Customer Service needs to be able to look at your account and determine if any action is required, particularly action related to the email you received.

Request for input of personal data

Some emails are designed to collect or steal a user’s login information for a specific website. These emails often ask the user to submit personal information or login credentials via email or via a link provided in the email. If you receive an email asking you to provide this information, be careful as it may be a scam (phishing).

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Most legitimate companies require you to visit their website and log into your account rather than requesting the information via email.

Addressed to a username

Deceptive email senders have various information about the recipient, sometimes none, except their email address and username. Legitimate companies typically begin an email by addressing the recipient by their full name. The purpose of a fraudulent email is often to obtain personal information about the user so that it can use something more general, such as B. “Dear Sir” or “Dear Madame”.


Any email that doesn’t provide details is a sign of phishing.


Some malicious users can research their target and get many details about it to make an email look more legitimate. These types of attacks are known as “spear phishing”.

Check the website link

One of the most common tools used by scammers is a link to a website. A deceptive email may contain a link to a fake website that is used to collect anything you type on that website, giving them access to your account or information. To counteract this, you can check the link in your email before clicking on it.

One way to check a link is to place your mouse pointer over the link, but don’t click on it. At the bottom of your email program or browser, you can see the actual website address in the status bar. Checking the link should show whether or not it is the actual company website.

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You can also right-click the link contained in the email and choose Copy Link Location or a similar option from the context menu. Then paste that link into a program like TextPad or Microsoft Word. The copy of the link allows you to view the full address of that link. Compare this link with the actual company website address and see if they match or not.

If you believe the email you have received is a scam, do not attempt to click on any links contained in that email. It may attempt to redirect you to a deceptive website or contain spyware designed to collect and steal information from your computer.