Did you know that it has been estimated that spam accounts for 14 billion emails every single day? That’s a lot of unwanted, inappropriate or irrelevant emails sent in 24 hours. With so many fraudulent emails floating around the globe, it is important that you recognize spam when you see it and know what to do if you detect spam within your email account.
How to detect spam:
While most spam screams out that the email you see is fraudulent with their claims of guaranteed search engine success and erectile dysfunction cures, others can be harder to detect. Spam filters do the best they can to filter out these unwanted messages, but they aren’t always 100% accurate. Spammers get more crafty with each passing day, and it’s hard to find even one person who hasn’t been fooled by spam at least once in their life.
Below we have assembled some quick tips to help you identify spam on the increasingly rare occasion it slips into your inbox. Remember, whenever you are in doubt about the authenticity of an email, always delete first and ask questions later. Never click a link or download a file from an unknown source. If you do, you are opening yourself up to malware, ransomware, computer viruses, and a whole host of inconveniences, or worse.
#1. Only open email from senders you recognize.
Make sure that you recognize not only the sender’s name but the email address that corresponds to the name you see. Oftentimes, spammers will pose as people you know in an attempt to get you to open spammy email.
#2. Never give out personal information through email.
Remember that most reputable organizations will not solicit personal information through email. Any email that asks you for information like your birth date, address or other identifying personal information is most certainly spam.
#3. When in doubt, search for information outside of the email and contact the source.
If you suspect that an email is spam, you can open a new tab and search for additional information. Never call phone numbers or email addresses included in the email you suspect to be spam as they will lead you further into the deception.
#4. Look for low-quality images and grammatical mistakes.
Most spammers do not spend the time necessary to optimize images or spell check, while reputable organizations typically do. If you see that an email is poorly worded or includes questionable graphics, it’s best to delete the email immediately.
#5. Check that link destination points to the correct site.
By simply hovering your mouse above a link, without clicking, you can see the link’s actual destination. Spam will often mask links as a website you recognize, but in reality, direct you to another fraudulent website.
What to do when you find fraudulent email:
If you suspect you have received fraudulent email, the best course of action is to simply delete it. Most email hosts also provide the option to mark a message as spam to help their spam detection system. If you feel that the fraud is particularly convincing or malicious, report the email to US-CERT, or the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team. You can find more information about US-CERT here.
How to avoid being targeted by spam:
To some extent, we must all accept that we are going to be targeted by spam. However, there are ways to avoid receiving more than your fair share of spam. The easiest way to avoid spam is by not giving out your email address. Make sure you unclick any auto enrolments and steer clear of subscriptions and newsletters. Your email service most likely has a spam filter in place. However, you can usually increase the level of security or install additional services like Mimecast to provide additional spam screening.
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