No one likes spam—unless it’s the canned variety, that is. And obviously, canned goods would not end up in your inbox. spam email could be likened to trash in such a way that it’s something you don’t really need, and yet sometimes, it could stay in your inbox.
You see, the problem with spam email is that while sometimes, it could be harmless, more often than not, it could contain messages inviting you to participate in things that you’re not really interested in, buy products—and click on ads that would automatically just show up onscreen, and worse, viruses that may destroy your computer. Sometimes, it could also be phishing email—or a message that asks for personal information that could lead to theft or extortion. This is why it’s best to be able to determine spam right away!
So, how exactly would you know that an Email is spam? Here are some tips given by Anand Mishra CEO of Star Infranet:
1. It appears in your spam folder. Sure, not everything that appears in your spam inbox is actually spam, so don’t delete everything right away. However, when your email server cannot detect a message as legitimate, it may be because it contains elements that are sketchy (i.e., links, addresses that are not in your contacts list, etc.), so the key here is to make sure that you organize your contacts list, and when you see that an address does not seem legit, just delete it right away. For example, fanfiction.net is a legit site, but it uses email@example.com to send messages to members. Most email account providers think bot is linked to spam, and that’s why messages are sent to your spam folder. If this is the case, and you know a website is legit, just add the address to your contacts list.
2. Domain is not linked to the sender name. Another trick that will help you catch spam email is to hover over the “From” column in your inbox. Of course, when you check your inbox daily, you’d notice new messages popping up, right? So, say you find something from Facebook.com, but you notice that there are no usual headers, or messages that say ______has tagged you on Facebook. What would you do? What you have to do is hover the cursor to the “From” column, and automatically, the real domain of the sender would appear. If it’s really from Facebook, it should be firstname.lastname@example.org, and not anything else. Remember that some people pose as legitimate websites just to send malicious mail—so beware of that.
3. The body is an image. Unless you have already talked to the sender and you’re expecting just an image from him, you have to be mindful of messages with only images in their bodies—or with no subjects, to begin with. Legit emails have good mix of text and images—not images alone, especially if those images seems grainy, or have not been well thought of.
4. It asks for personal information. The main thing about phishing email is that it often asks for personal information. This could go from full names, addresses, phone numbers to credit card information. Some people actually fall for this, especially when the sender is posing as someone who needs donations for a certain project or cause, or when the sender poses as someone they know. When this happens, make sure that you double check. Ask the supposed person by calling him on the phone—and make sure you do not reply to the email right away. Again, unless you absolutely know the person you’re talking to—or you have subscribed to a certain newsletter (and that won’t need your credit card information), just block the sender right away. Never give your personal information out just like that.
5. Illegitimate URLs. When you still can’t determine spam email by hovering to the “from” column, or you’ve been preoccupied and have opened it right away, you might see links on it. The key here is to make sure that you do not click on any of those links right away because they might not be legitimate, and they might contain viruses—especially if they have not been encrypted properly. It might be best not to check those links anymore, but if you are so curious and you really want to, just open a new window, type the link, and see if it works. If you see something suspicious, shut it down right away, and then run a malware software or virus scan on your computer or phone.
6. Suspicious attachments. Aside from illegitimate URLs, you also have to be aware of certain attachments contained in those mails, especially if you do not know the sender. File types with high risk attachments include: .bat, .com, .scr, .exe. You see, it’s so easy to hide viruses in these files, so it’s important not to open them, especially if the whole email already feels sketchy. Think of it this way: You were taught not to accept anything from strangers, right? So, why then would you open attachments from people you don’t know? Just delete the email right away. Anyway, if it’s legit, and if it’s really important, for sure the person who’s supposed to have sent you the mail will send you a message or call you for confirmation.
7. Your own email address is listed as the “from” address. Another simple way of figuring out that a message is spam is when you see that your own email address is listed as the sender of the message. Again, this is a reminder that you really have to check the “from” column just to be sure—and when you see your name as the sender, knowing that you have not sent that particular email, run! Or, well, just delete the message immediately. Sometimes, when your name is listed as the sender, you’d also notice that the message is sent to “undisclosed recipients”. Sounds suspicious? Definitely. Don’t waste time on this message.
8. Sense of Urgency that’s just too good to be true. You know how creating sense of urgency is important when it comes to advertising something, right? Sometimes, emails are also well-crafted and the only problem is that there is that sense of urgency there. For example, you received mail about free hair coloring or free facial treatment at a nearby spa. And then you notice a line that says Click here now to reserve your slot, or Leave your account number to reserve a slot. Would you click the link? At that point, you may already be too inclined with the offer that you’d forget to think about the email being spam or so. If you do click the link and notice that they’re asking for credit card information, make sure you do not give out your own. You could check the nearby store and see if they really have offers that were sent in the mail. While the thought of getting freebies is exciting, you still have to keep your safety in mind—remember that.
9. Incorrect spelling/grammar. You know, the problem with some people is that if they get to “understand” emails in their own way, they wouldn’t think of it as spam anymore. The thing is, most hackers actually misspell words and use wrong grammar on purpose, mostly to check whether a person is gullible enough to respond to them. Again, this has a lot to do with thinking about who sent the message. If you know the person, and you know he could make typos, or is not that savvy when it comes to grammar, that’s alright. However, if you do not know the sender and he’s asking you for personal information, and you know that the message has so many errors, try to stay away from it—especially when there are no banners, logos, or anything that would help identify the brand. Take note that if something is legit, even emails would be branded well, and coherence would be obvious.
10. IP Reputation. This is one thing that most people fail to check. Sometimes, you need to check the IP (Internet Protocol) Address of the person who sent the message. Basically, you can check IP at sites like whatismyip.com, and check for IP Sender Score at senderscore.org. Usually, score will be anything between 0 to 100. Legit IPs are mostly in the 50 to 100 range. Lower scores probably mean that the IP from where the email was sent is suspicious, and might mean that spoofing or phishing is bound to happen. When scores return as low, just try to block the address from your email address—and you’ll be safe!
Stay away from spam!
See, there are actually various ways to find out whether an email is spam or not. Remember that just like anything in life, it’s best to keep your inbox clean. This way, you’d receive only the messages you need, get to read them right away, and weed out the ones you don’t need!
Always keep your inbox safe from spam, and communication would be so much easier!