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Identify SPAM Email Like a Pro

Identify SPAM Email Like a Pro

You walk into work, sit down at your computer (or turn to your smartphone), and look to your inbox, but can you identify spam email? We all follow our own websites that share daily or weekly email newsletters. It’s nice to have reading material in the morning [or evening], right? Then, you have the usual emails waiting to be read from co-workers, employees, customers, and maybe even partners at the distribution center. Same ole, same ole.

But, wait? What is this? "Your website is not performing, and you need SEO help!" No, you don’t. It’s SPAM! And not the kind in a can! Your account on OMGautofactsOMG got hacked? No, it didn’t and that’s probably not even a real website. 

Today, with the growth of the Internet and technology, spammers have more resources and sophistication than ever before to try and draw in your attention. So, how in a world full of spammers, do we stay safe and alert? That’s what we’re here for!

Here are the five most important things to look for when you think it’s SPAM!It's just as easy to identify SPAM email as it is to identify a can of Spam

1. Did the email end up in your spam folder?

Now, this may seem like common sense, but we needed to mention it. Why? Because the number of people who look through their spam folder is immeasurable. So, first things first, if an email was sent to your spam folder--there is a pretty good chance that it belongs there.

The emails you need will appear in your inbox almost all of the time, so don’t go digging in your spam folder unless you specifically know you should have received a certain email, can’t find it in your inbox, and you know the company/email address it was sent from.

2. How does the email look in your inbox?

What does the sender’s email address look like? Is there a specific name that is referenced to a legitimate company (for example- [email protected])? Or does it look a little off, including a long string of letters or numbers that don’t really make sense? What is the email service before the .com, .net, etc? Quick example: If [email protected] is sending you an email about needing to send your personal information for your car loan to go through, it’s SPAM!

Now, check out the subject of the email? Do they offer a real business name? Probably not, but if by chance they do, don’t trust the email just yet… A lot of spammers tend to use greetings within the subject that include your website domain name, not the name of your business or your name (abc123tires.com instead of ABC123 Tires, LLC.). This is a trick to make themselves look trustworthy when in reality they’re a spammer.

3. What does the content look like? 

If it happens to pass number one and two--take a look at the content of the email. The first thing to take note on is the grammar. Business professionals who are hired to send email blasts to prospective and current customers will check their grammar and spelling 100 times before clicking send. If the grammar looks funky and words are misspelled, there is a good chance, it’s SPAM!

Next, does the content specifically include a note that they are NOT a spammer? This is quite funny and ironic, but means the email is most likely spam. A perfect example is from an email one of our Net Driven customers recently received: “Note: We are not spammer. We found your email through manually efforts. We are sorry if you get email 2 or 3 times. You can simply reply with “remove” so we will delete you email from our list. Thanks again.”  

Okay, one, I did not have grammar errors in that message, this is the real deal copied from the email received! Note the terrible use of language that leaves you rereading the short sentences in confusion. Two, the fact that they are taking the time to tell you they are not a spammer, 99% of the time, means it’s...SPAM! Come on, I had to! 

Another thing to keep in mind is the use of their company or business name within the email. If they didn’t mention it in the subject line or within the email content, don’t trust the email! This gets overlooked very easily. “But they are a Digital Marketing Professional” you say. Sure, what was the name of their company again? Oh yeah, they forgot to mention that. How convenient.

4. Does the email ask for personal information?

Most, if not all, trusted-legitimate companies will not ask for any type of personal information  through an email. That is what secure, encrypted forms are for. So, no one but that specific company get can their hands on your information.

Also, if you have past experience with a business, they don’t need your personal information because they most likely have it stored in their company database. Keep this in mind. No matter how legitimate an email may seem, don’t give any of your personal information, ever. This means through links included in spammy looking emails, too!

5. Is it too good to be true? Is it too nerve-wracking to ignore?

Are you kind and willing to donate to charities? They pose as them. Do you fear certain threats affecting you online? They create fake ones and ask you to download “protection” that causes more harm than good. Could you use a little more cash in your pocket or funds in your account? Free giveaways and incentives for giving your personal information target those who believe they have won something. Are you single and looking for love/romance? They jump right on that bandwagon, too! Do you just have a terrible memory? They craft their emails to use that against you through shined up language and offers that are too good to be true. One example is the use of RE: in the subject line of emails. Many spammers use this to make you think they previously talked to you or have emailed you before.

Hello website user. Your account is overdue payment by two months. We really don’t want cancellation of site, but if no payment received by next week, website will be taken down. Please visit nonsensewebsite.net to make payment or reply to this email with credit card information so overdue fees are taken away. Please respond quickly. Your credit score to be affected drastically. Thanks, Mark Smith- Website Developer” 

Above is an example of how spammers play on human emotion. You don’t want your website taken down, you don’t want overdue fees, and you don’t want a bad credit score. Just like that- one, two, three... you are nervous and ready to send your information. DON’T DO IT! EVER! 

Looking for key indicators like the ones bolded in the example above can help identify spam sooner than later. If you’re a customer of any business they will have services and specific employees within their company to contact you about any issues that arise. If you look at the content above, there is no company named, the grammar is terrible, and WHY would the website developer be contacting you about payment?

Learn to identify spam email and soon it will STOP being a problemNow that you know the top five things to look for when you suspect spam...what should you do when it is spam? How do you respond? Follow these five steps! 

1. NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVER click on anything! Don’t click ANY links included in the email if you suspect it’s SPAM! EVER. It takes seconds for a virus or malware to sweep your system if there is a threatening link included.


2. DO NOT reply! If the email prompts you to reply with any sort of personal information or response, don’t do it! Spammers use your reply to harvest your email address in their system because they now know it's a real, active email account.

3. Unsubscribe? NO! In cases of regular promotional mass emails from legitimate sources, go ahead and unsubscribe if you wish to no longer receive information from that company. In spam cases, NEVER hit unsubscribe! WHY? The word unsubscribe can be linked to a threatening site that may affect your computer system or smartphone. Also, the unsubscribe may just be included to try to “fake out” spam filters. Remember traditional spam emails are sent to tens of thousands, even millions of email addresses, in the hope that a handful of recipients open them and enter the desired information or responses of spammers.

4. IMMEDIATELY flag the email as spam. This way similar emails you receive in the future will be caught by your spam filter and will be automatically added to your spam folder.

5. If you don’t already use a spam filter--use one! This is probably the most important step and will save you a lot of time and worry. A spam filter protects your email and information against spammers. Make sure your spam settings are set correctly. If you are unsure or have questions about spam and filters, contact your email Administration or look to the frequently asked questions.

After some time working directly on the Internet and going through emails all day, we’ve become used to these types of emails and begin to take for granted that we know how to identify spam email, but we understand that many of our dealers are not used to this. We’re here to help. If you receive any questionable emails regarding your Net Driven website, let us look them over for you. 

After reading our five steps to identify spam email and five steps on how to react to it--we hope you enjoyed this SPAM 101 session! Remember, if you are questioning it, there is a good chance IT’S SPAM! You’ll be seeing those words in your dreams!


 

Categories: Internet Marketing, Websites

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