What different types of fake e-mails are there and how can you recognize them?
Fraudsters copy e-mails on behalf of all kinds of companies and organizations to try and scam innocent consumers for their information / money. We have made an overview of the types of fake e-mails that you may receive. Read these tips on how to prevent becoming a victim of such fake e-mails.
Always pay attention to the sender.
Does the sender’s e-mail address not end with @[company name].co.uk? Then chances are that this mail is a fake. Incidentally, criminals now respond well to this, for example, they let the sender address end with .com instead of .co.uk or the address deviates one letter from the original e-mail address. Handy fraudsters use a trick called ‘e-mail spoofing’. They can manipulate the sender address in such a way that it is no longer distinguishable from the original. Even if the email appears to be legitimate, it may not always be.
Is there a link in the email?
First check where the link leads to by moving your mouse cursor over the link without clicking. With this you can see what kind of website you go to when you click on the link. Does the url not match the url of the official website of a company or agency at all? Then this is a fake website. Note: nowadays also the urls are very similar to the url of an official website. Both phishing emails and malware emails can contain links. Avoid clicking links where possible, if an email asks you to login to your account to update some details then visit the site directly.
Does the e-mail contain an attachment?
Never just click on this attachment. With just one click you can download harmful software to your computer. Check in the same way as with phishing emails, where the link leads to, or what file you download. Attachments with the .exe or .zip extension are often risky. Do not open these attachments. Companies will very rarely send you attachments via email unless you have requested something.
Take a good look at the scope of the message.
Banks, for example, never send emails stating that you have to enter your details. They also ask you never to send your bankcard. Is it threatened with a reminder or bailiff? Don’t fall for it! The fraudsters only do this to scare you. Often the e-mail gives you an urgent reason to take action. If you think there may be a problem, contact your bank directly before following any instructions from the email. You can always report an email to the company if you think their may be an attempted scam.
Does the e-mail look amateurish?
Pay attention to spelling errors and the design of the e-mail. Then you can almost immediately assume that it is a fake e-mail. Criminals are getting better at copying reliable designs, so don’t let the design mislead you.
Are you still not sure whether an email has been sent by the company or agency from which the mail appears to be coming? Then contact the company via the telephone number or e-mail address that can be found on the official site of the organization or company. Purchase a good virus scanner. Did you accidentally click on an attachment that contains malware? Then in some cases the virus scanner can prevent your computer from being infected. Find more helpful advice from leading Consumer Rights activists Which? here.
Watch out for e-mails stating that you have won. Do not enter your details where possible, phishing scams can lead to identity fraud. If it seems too good to be true, it is.