How to spot a scam email

How to spot a scam email

Email scams, also known as phishing scams, are becoming increasingly common and clever as hackers try to steal your personal and bank details.  Some even come with malicious software attached that if downloaded, can damage your device!  These scam emails can be pretty convincing but with our top tips below, you’ll be able to spot them.

1. Check the ‘from’ address

The scam email in your inbox will more often than not use the normal and proper name of the business you are familiar with.  However if you click on the name or open up the email to show the email address in full, you’ll probably see a few anomalies. The address might have numbers or random letters in it or may even be a Hotmail or Gmail account, which shows that it’s not come from an official business account.

2. Look at how they greet you

If the email starts with just ‘Hi’ or goes straight into the main message and doesn’t include your name, then this is a good sign that it is a scam email as it has an informal approach.  Businesses you have been in contact with before or have signed up to, will have your basic information such as your name, and so will make their emails personally addressed to you.

3. Check the spelling and grammar

If there’s lots of spelling mistakes, grammar being misused, a strange or wonky layout or sentences not making any sense, then you need to think to yourself; why would a respectable, reputable business allow an email with such errors to be sent out to me? These mistakes show a lack of professionalism and not a lot of care.

4. Double check the links

As we’ve already discussed, some scam emails come with attached viruses so you should always be careful not to click on any attachments or website links, if you’re unsure of the email sender.  A good way to check that links are legitimate are to do a Google search of the business and see if you can find the matching website URL.

5. Google search the contact information

Just like the above, if there is a telephone number or a street address in the email, do a Google search to see what comes up and if the information relates to the business.  You can also use websites such as ‘Who Called Me’ to see if the phone number is related and linked to an already reported scam.

6. Confirm with the business direct

If you’re still not sure, go directly to the business to confirm the email is legitimate.  To stay on the safe side, don’t use the telephone or website links within the email.  Go to their website and use the telephone number from there, or use a number for them that you have already called.


Understanding the threats out there against your computer and data is a great way to stay safe while online, and our Cyber Security courses at CU CoventryCU London and CU Scarborough will teach you how to do just that, and make a career out of it to boot.