Answer Genie’s 9 questions to protect yourself from scammers targeting you through email.
1. Is the 'from' address suspicious?
A scam email usually has a fairly bizarre email address behind what looks like a genuine sender name.
2. Is there no greeting or is the greeting impersonal?
Sometimes scam emails will not include any personal greeting or they will just say “Hi” without including your name. Other times your email address will be used after “Hi”. This impersonal approach to contacting you is a sign that it’s likely to be a scammer behind the email.
3. Is the branding consistent?
Is the branding on the email the same as it is on the official company or government website? Does it match the last genuine email you received from them? If the answer is no, it’s another sign of a scam.
4. Are the links legitimate?
As a rule, Genie does not recommend clicking on any links from suspicious senders. Instead you can see where a weblink links to without actually clicking on it by simply hovering your mouse cursor over the link. In the bottom left-hand corner of your web browser, the web address where the link goes to will appear.
If it’s a big brand or company, simply open a new tab and do a quick Google search for them. Click on their website and then compare the URL addresses. Are they the same, similar or totally different? This should give you a good indication as to whether the landing page is a fake or genuine.
5. Are they asking for personal or bank details?
If an email is asking you to update or re-enter your personal or bank details out of the blue, it is likely going to be a scam. Most legitimate companies will never ask for personal information to be supplied via email.
6. Do they write with poor spelling, grammar or presentation?
a real lack of consistency with the presentation of the email, which may include several different font styles, font sizes and a mismatch of logos, is a good indication of a scam.
7. Are they trying hard to seem 'official'?
Scammers often try hard to make the email sound official. They will do this in a number of ways, including overusing the word ‘official’.
Scam emails may also contain information such as account numbers and IDs designed to trick you into thinking the email is genuine. Check any of these against your records to see if they match.
8. Are they trying to rush you?
Scammers will try to pressure you with time-sensitive offers, encouraging you to act now or miss out on ‘exclusive’ deals.
Take your time to make all the checks you need. If the message is alerting you to look at something linked to an account you have with the company, organisation or retailer, you should log in separately to your account in a new tab or window
It’s better to miss out on a genuine deal than risk compromising your personal details or money.
9. Did you check with the real company, brand or department?
If you've looked for all of these signs and you’re still unsure if a scammer is behind the email you received, get in touch with the official brand or company directly via another source: find them on social media or their phone number on their 'contact us' page. Then you can double check if they really sent you this email.