If you have ever clicked on a link from an email you opened and suddenly your computer started acting weird, you know what it is like to be duped by a scammer. Unfortunately despite the fact that most of us know about these scam emails, many of us will still open the email, stare and wonder for a moment, and eventually click on the link—only to regret it later. To hopefully spare your computer from a nasty virus, I put together a quick list of seven ways to instantly recognize if an email is a scam. If you see multiple of these signs, don’t click on any links! More than likely they will download some kind of virus that will infect your computer.
Either scroll down to the infographic below, or see the list of the seven surefire ways to spot a fraudulent or harmful email:
1. Strange or awkward phrases suggest lack of cultural awareness. Unless you get letters and emails that address you as “my dear” on a regular basis, you might want to stay away from this. Fraudulent emails are often composed by people outside of this country and they will use phrases that don’t quite mix with our current culture.
2. You don’t have a clue who the author is. While it is certainly possible you might get a legitimate email from someone you don’t know, it is rare and it should raise suspicion.
3. The domain of the email isn’t recognizable. If the domain isn’t something you have heard of, like “gmail” or “hotmail” and if it isn’t the name of a company you recognize, it probably isn’t legitimate.
4. The author is offering money for no reason. Let’s be clear: nobody just gives away money. Ever. If you are being offered money for no reason, you are being scammed.
5. There is weird stuff that makes no sense. Strange information that looks auto-generated from a computer means the email was probably sent by a computer to millions of people.
6. Really awful grammar and silly spelling errors pepper the text. Legitimate organizations hire competent people to write their emails. If the email sounds like it was written by someone just learning English, it probably isn’t coming from an organization you would trust.
7. There are suspicious links. If the email encourages you click on a link and you don’t know the person or organization that sent it to you, the link is probably a virus and will harm your computer. Play close attention to the URL: what would “wumt” stand for? Don’t click on it for any reason!