IT Freedom Blog

Is It a Legitimate Email or a Scam?

by Matt Miller on

You probably go through hundreds of Emails per day: some work-related and others personal. Most of the senders are familiar, but some are new. Some Emails you just read, and others require action. A problem arises, then, when the action required will actually cause harm to your system – but how would you know the difference between a safe Email and a potentially harmful one? Are there telltale signs to look for that an email is not legitimate?


Here are some things to look for:

Who is the Email addressed to?

Emails that contain phishing scams will be addressed to you and possibly a long list of other people. These names can be in alphabetical order or merely random. The other thing to look out for is when your Email address is used, but your name is wrong.

Whose name is in the body of the Email?

The name in the body of the Email could be general such as “Manager” or “Business Associate” without actually specifying a name. This could be due to the Email being sent to a number of people at once, which is a definite sign that something is fishy.

Are you prompted to download something or go to a Web address?

One of the common scams that often do damage happens when a friend or associate’s Email is hacked. They appear to send you an Email and tell you that they want you to download something or visit a web address to “check something out”. These are almost always frauds. In this instance, it is best to call the person first and ask them if they sent it.

A ZIP file is attached

No matter what the name of the file is, ZIP files do not need to contain what the file name implies. The issue with these is that they can contain an executable file (.exe) that you find only when you unpack it. Again, it’s best to check with the sender when you receive these.

How is the Email written?

Often Emails that are scams will appear to be written either poorly (with improper English), or they will sound overly formal. The style often doesn’t flow smoothly and when reading it over it will seem off.

Emails that you receive should be scrutinized to ensure they are legitimate. Any Email you are unsure of should not be touched – always exercise caution. It is best to have your IT department check the Email and clear it or have it removed.

Contact us to discuss these and other topics and questions you might have! 


For similar posts check out our master list of Cyber Security blogs.

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