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When is an email authentic, and when is it a scam?

Alert emails often contain links to other advice resources and surveys.  We are often challenged regarding this as people's perception sometimes is that you should never follow links in emails.  When is it safe to follow links in emails and what should you look out for?

Our view is that email is both an excellent communication tool and also a way that companies and individuals can inform you about their latest products and services. However, email is frequently used to deliver unwanted material which is at best, annoying and at worst, malicious – causing considerable harm to your computer and yourself.

It is sensible to be cautious and informed about the risks so you know what to look out for when you have doubts about following a link.

The following information is a superb explanation about issues and risks in emails:

https://www.getsafeonline.org/protecting-yourself/spam-and-scam-email

 

You will also find some superb advice regarding phishing emails on the action fraud website here: http://www.actionfraud.police.uk/fraud-az-phishing

 

Get Safe Online guidance on email safety includes:

  • Do not open emails which you suspect as being scams.
  • Do not forward emails which you suspect as being scams.
  • Do not open attachments from unknown sources.
  • If in doubt, contact the person or organisation the email claims to have been sent by ... better safe than sorry. 
  • Do not readily click on links in emails from unknown sources. Instead, roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination, displayed in the bottom left corner of your screen. Beware if this is different from what is displayed in the text of the link from the email.
  • Do not respond to emails from unknown sources.
  • Do not make purchases or charity donations in response to spam email. 
  • Don’t click on ‘remove’ or reply to unwanted email.
  • Check junk mail folders regularly in case a legitimate email gets through by mistake.
  • When sending emails to multiple recipients, list their addresses in the 'BCC' (blind copy) box instead of in the 'To' box. In this way, no recipient will see the names of the others, and if their addresses fall into the wrong hands there will be less chance of you or anybody else receiving phishing or spam emails.
  • Similarly, delete all addresses of previous parties in the email string, before forwarding or replying.
  • If you are suspicious of an email, you can check if it is on a list of known spam and scam emails that some internet security vendors such as McAfee and Symantec feature on their websites.
  • Most Microsoft and other email clients come with spam filtering as standard. Ensure yours is switched on. 
  • Most spam and junk filters can be set to allow email to be received from trusted sources, and blocked from untrusted sources. 
  • When choosing a webmail account such as gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! Mail, make sure you select one that includes spam filtering and that it remains switched on.
  • Most internet security packages include spam blocking. Ensure that yours is up to date and has this feature switched on. 

 

Related article:

How do I know that an email is genuine?

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