How to identify a scam email to protect your business

FILED UNDER: BUSINESS OWNERS, SMALL BUSINESS, BUSINESS ADVICE, CLOUD SERVICES

Scam emails are dangerous for your business. Intended to cause mayhem and advance the personal interests of the perpetrators, scam emails can contain a number of malicious features, such as links to phishing sites, or infected web pages and attachments containing malicious software. Falling for these tricks can cause financial losses for your business, so it’s important to be able to recognise if an email is legitimate or a scam.

The email is most likely a scam if:

 

The message is full of typos and errors

 

Emails serve as effective avenues of business communication for organisations and individuals. To appear professional to recipients, the emails should not only be clear and concise, it should also be free from typographical and grammatical errors. If you see a number of wrongly spelt words, or if some of the sentences don’t make sense to you, the email that you’re reading could be a scam email.

 

It uses an urgent subject line

 

Urgent-sounding subject lines such as “Your account will be suspended soon” or “Hurry before the promo ends” are some of the examples that scam emails employ to get clicks from potential victims. The goal of these subject lines is to hook readers into quickly clicking the emails to increase their chances of scamming. Before clicking on emails, especially those with urgent subject lines, verify the source first; it could be a scam.

 

You’re asked to donate cash

 

Donation scams are common place online, and the most common method of distribution employed by its perpetrators is email. To get people to donate, perpetrators rely on social engineering; they use images of children from poor countries or individuals with ailments to hook the recipient emotionally, then prompt the reader to click on a link to donate. Most of these kinds of emails are scam emails, so you need to be wary of them.

 

The email has suspicious attachments

 

Business emails typically have files attached to them, but these are mostly files that are sent to you upon request. So unless you asked to be sent these files, consider that email a scam email until you have verified if the source is legitimate.

 

Another way to tell if an email is a scam is if the attached files are small in size. For example, if the email has an attached file that appears to be a very important PDF document but is sized at a mere 17kb, it’s most likely a malicious file and the email is a scam.

 

The anchor text doesn’t match the linked site

 

Scam emails are typically riddled with links to phishing sites. To get victims to click, they use the names of popular companies and brands as the hyperlinked text, or anchor text. Upon hovering over these anchor texts however, they will usually have URLs that do not match the hyperlinked text. If you find even one mismatched hyperlink in the email, then it is most likely a scam.