Think you’d be easily tricked into buying something? What about if you didn’t even know that you were buying it?
These days our email accounts are so clever, filtering out all of the junk that we don’t want to see, and protecting us from harmful viruses, scams and other electronic irritations. However, more often than not, people like you and me can get too complacent and think that that message from Paypal looks really important. You know, the one that’s telling you to “Confirm payment details”, or that “your credit card is expiring soon, please update”.
Just because your emails seem as though they’re coming from a legitimate source doesn’t mean that you’re safe to open them, let alone click on their links and follow through to log your details. Studies have shown that scam emails and viruses are targeted at people who are more likely to fall victim to their tricks more than once.
So, how can you tell which ones to trust and which ones to bin?
Here’s a list of the top 10 indicators, in nor particular order, that the email you just thought was so important is simply another ploy to get you to part with your cash:
1) Empty or Nonspecific Subject Lines
We all, occasionally, send emails with blank subjects, but when you receive one from a sender that you don’t recognise or, worse yet, the subject is something along the lines of, “Fwd: Important” or “Just for you,” then it’s probably best to ignore it.
2) Spelling, Punctuation and Grammar
Ok, it’s true that most of us are becoming more lazy in the way we write, but that doesn’t mean that you wouldn’t notice something odd when your bank suddenly couldn’t spell “Account Details” or “Please,” right? Always be suspicious of emails where the content seems to have a lot more mistakes than a normal person would make, especially when that email is supposedly coming from a reputable source.
Misspelling things is also a way for scammers to get around your email’s spam filters, writing things like, “V1@gra” instead of “viagra”… and a trusty tip from Mashable.com: You probably shouldn’t buy Viagra via email, anyway.
3) Ambiguous Links
Here are the types of links to look out for in emails or subject lines if you smell something fishy:
Links that stand alone as the email’s content (i.e. there’s nothing but a link).
Shortened Links, like those from ow.ly or bit.ly, that don’t display the full URL.
Hyperlinked text (underlined and linked text) where you also can’t see the full URL.
If you’re ever in doubt, luckily browsers like Google Chrome can help by revealing the link’s real URL when you hover your mouse over them. Otherwise, just copy and paste those links into “Expanders”, like LongURL, so that you can see where they lead before you click on them.
4) When The Sender and The Email Address Don’t Match
Malicious email addresses often display a different Sender name to fool the recipient. If, for example, you receive a message from Target.com.au but the email address is “firstname.lastname@example.org”, then you should seriously consider binning it.
5) Unwarranted or Over-The-Top Enthusiasm
If you just lost 5lbs after eating a mystical diet, would you send an email to everyone, SHOUTING ABOUT IT? Uppercase language in emails, especially where the majority of the text is all caps, can be a very good indication that the contents of that email are not what they seem. Delete.
6) A Ridiculous Number of Recipients
If you get an email that’s directed at you (or just one person), yet there are hundreds upon hundreds of email addresses in the recipient or “To:” field, then you should be very weary indeed!
7) Requesting Personal or Confidential Information
Scammers make their money by obtaining personal information because most victims are unaware of the dangers in transmitting those details online. Please remember that no reputable institution, be it a bank, school, company or otherwise, would ask you for your credit card, bank or password details. Never, ever share that information online, regardless of how legitimate the sender seems. Never.
8) Weird Requests
If someone has sent you a message asking for something really weird (that you weren’t expecting), like medical assistance or for help with cheating on their partner, it’s most likely to be a scam. Seriously. Why would a stranger ask you to do something like that?
9) Steadfast Guarantees
There is nothing on the Internet that is 100% guaranteed. Promises to make money quickly from home or boost your libido should never be taken to heart. “This simple trick made the ladies love me” is more likely to mean, “Click here to give me all of your money.”
In most cases, if someone found themselves in an emergency situation, they would contact someone they know, or the police. Imagine you just received a death threat from a mob boss, who wanted to cut your fingers off and mail them to your family… would you take the time to send out a bunch of emails to random people in hope that one of them would wire you the money you needed? Probably not. The same applies to you when you receive emails that claim, “my life depends on you” or “I really need your help”. Think twice about being kind to strangers online because, most likely, they’re not planning on being kind to you.
If you think you have been scammed then we may be able to help. Precise Investigation will have an affordable and discrete private detective or investigator near you. Whether you are in Melbourne, Hobart, Sydney, Brisbane, Adelaide, Perth or any other city in Australia we can advise on what type of investigation or surveillance may be right for you. Contact ustoday.
Call Precise Investigation today on 1300 856 011 for a professional, Private Investigation Service
Image credit: Thank you Don Hankins – flickr