Email scammers have been getting more creative, but their scams are some of the easiest to identify.
Here’s an example of an email scam. This is one that I have personally received, so we’re going to look at some of the telltale signs.
Now this one is a bit convincing. It’s simple and direct, like how some emails from Chase Bank tend to be. They even have the actual Chase logo in the email, but there are a few obvious issues that can help you tell that this is fake.
First, lets take a closer look at the contact information at the top of the page.
The first thing we can notice is that the name of the bank is wrong. This is very common on scam emails. Scammers will frequently spell the name of a company wrong or use strange looking letters in order to keep the emails from getting caught by automatic spam filters that are set up by your email provider. Most big email providers, like Gmail, Outlook/Hotmail, and AOL make great efforts to prevent emails like this from getting through.
The next thing we’ll notice is the sender’s email address… “firstname.lastname@example.org”… That’s not Chase! Scammers are not able to send emails from a company’s actual email address, so they have to make one up. These fake addresses usually get deleted within a few hours, so it’s extremely unlikely that you’ll ever see the same one twice. I suggest that you do not reply to these addresses.
Lastly, we can see the “To:” address. It has an address that looks almost like random mumble-jumble, and “email@example.com”. Neither of those addresses is me! Scammers send these emails to hundreds or even thousands of people at a time, so they use “bcc” to keep people from seeing where the email went. They put fake addresses in the “to” box.
Here’s what the contact information looks like on a real email from Chase Bank.
To make this brief;
- The name of the bank is correct. “Chase”. That’s it.
- The sender’s email address ends with “@chase.com” – that’s Chase bank’s actual website
- The “To:” address is simply “You”, or in this case, me.
Now, the look of this information may change depending on where you use your email, but this information will always be there.
What should I do if I received one of these emails?
The easiest and fastest thing to do is to simply delete the email. Receiving one of these emails simply means that someone was able to find (or in most cases, guess) your email address. It does not mean that your email account or bank account (or any other account) has been compromised.
If you would like to help your email provider detect and remove emails like this you can use their “Report Spam” option instead of just clicking delete. Here are some links for more information on how to do that.
If you’re concerned that your email or another online account has been hacked, Mozilla (the company that makes FireFox) has a tool that lets you check if your email or password has been compromised. https://monitor.firefox.com/
If you’re ever not sure if an email is legitimate, you can always ask a family member, friend, or coworker or look at it for you. If it ever looks slightly suspicious, it probably is, and please, never give out your personal information over email.