I’m sure we’ve all gotten an email or text message claiming you’ve won free gift cards for Walmart, or that you have a long-lost relative who’s a Nigerian Prince and wants to give you all his money. These attempts are obvious most of the time and we usually just ignore them. But we can all say we’ve almost fallen for one of these scams at least once in our lives. Spam is a plague on the internet and unfortunately it’s not going away anytime soon, no matter how many laws we pass.
Luckily, we can learn to detect spam when we receive it, and prevent getting it in the first place. This blog post aims to help you with just that. Although we can never prevent all of it, hopefully we can reduce the amount we receive.
5 Tips on how to Reduce the Amount of Spam you Receive
Limit the places you post your email address
Exercise caution when sharing your email address on public websites like social media, blogs, newsletter sign-ups, online chats, forums, etc. Consider creating a separate email address for these platforms. Avoid displaying your email address on personal websites and refrain from linking to it unnecessarily.
Watch out for checkboxes that are already selected
When you shop online, companies sometimes add a check box that is already selected, which indicates that it is fine with you if the company sells or gives your email address to other businesses (or “third parties”). Make sure to clear this check box so that your email address is not shared.
Never reply to spam
Never reply to an email or text, not even to unsubscribe from the mailing list, unless you know and trust the sender. If an email comes from a service, an online store, or a newsletter you have signed up for, it’s typically okay. Answering spam just confirms to the scammer that your email address is active
Never respond to an email or text that asks for sensitive information
Legitimate companies will never ask for sensitive information to be sent my email. Be suspicious if they do. These requests can be spoofed to look like they are real. This is called phishing.
Don’t contribute to a charity through email
Unfortunately, some spammers prey on your goodwill. If you receive an email appeal from a charity, treat it as spam. If the charity is one that you want to support, locate their telephone number or website to find out how you can make a contribution.
5 tips on How to Spot Spam
Emails Demanding Urgent Action
Emails threatening a negative consequence, or a loss of opportunity unless urgent action is taken, are often phishing emails. Phishing is when a fraudulent company sends emails or other messages to persuade individuals to give out their personal information. Attackers often use this approach to rush recipients into action before they have had the opportunity to study the email for potential flaws or inconsistencies.
Bad Grammar and Spelling Mistakes
Another way to spot phishing is bad grammar and spelling mistakes. Many companies apply spell-checking tools to outgoing emails by default to ensure their emails are grammatically correct. Those who use browser-based email clients apply autocorrect or highlight features on web browsers.
Emails exchanged between work colleagues usually have an informal salutation. Those that start “Dear,” or contain phrases not normally used in informal conversation, are from sources unfamiliar with the style of office interaction used in your business and should arouse suspicion.
Check the email address and links
Another way how to spot phishing is by finding inconsistencies in email addresses, links and domain names. Does the email originate from an organization that is corresponded with often? If so, check the sender’s address against previous emails from the same organization. Look to see if a link is legitimate by hovering the mouse pointer over the link to see what pops up. For example, if an email allegedly originates from Google, but the domain name reads something else, report the email as a phishing attack.
Most work-related file sharing now takes place via collaboration tools such as
SharePoint, OneDrive or Dropbox. Therefore, internal emails with attachments should always be treated suspiciously – especially if they have an unfamiliar extension or one commonly associated with malware (.zip, .exe, .scr, etc.).
What to do when you Receive Spam
Never Respond to Spam
Mark as Spam/Junk
Delete the Email