How to tell if an email is fake

Digital letters have become every person’s reality. Our mailboxes are full of newsletters, special offers, work messages, bank updates, and other notifications that we receive on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this has created a perfect environment for scammers. With such a great number of emails, we are becoming less able to distinguish authentic ones from the forged ones. So here’s how to spot a fake email once it gets through the email server.

Beware of Phishing Emails

Hackers and other cybercriminals have come up with quite sophisticated ways to trap their victims and trick them. Phishing emails are a serious threat nowadays. You receive an email that looks very legitimate at first but it’s really not. In fact, clicking on a link provided in the message content directs you to a fake website that collects your sensitive data.

The worst part of it is that such scammers usually claim to be worldwide recognized companies you expect to receive emails from. Some common examples are banks, big brands, online stores, etc. It’s easy to get tricked if you don’t pay attention to details. And let’s be honest, most of us won’t check whether an email sent by Amazon or Adidas is real or not. Below you’ll find some useful tips on how to recognize a fake email address.

Ways to Check if an Email is Authentic

Email servers are getting more advanced when it comes to filtering spammy content. But so are savvy attackers who know exactly how to get around the filters and make it to our mailboxes. The problem is not that serious until we open such a message. Fake email verification is not that difficult, just a little more time-consuming. But hey – better safe than sorry! 

So here’s a list of indicators that an email you’ve received is spam.

To Reply or not to Reply

Perhaps one of the easiest ways to check whether an email is fake or not is to simply reply to it. If it bounces back, you will know it wasn’t legitimate. There is, however, a downside of such practice. If an email does go through, scammers will know you’re an active user of this address and may try other ways to attack you with spammy and dangerous content.

Check the sender’s email address

If you’re not sure about the authenticity of a received email, always check the sender’s information. Simply hover your mouse over the address. Sometimes the name displayed in the box may look legitimate but the email was sent from a weird-looking address. Pay extra attention to spelling as scammers like to fool their victims with sleight-of-hand. They simply switch characters, e.g. they use ‘rn’ instead of ‘m’ or the letter ‘l’ becomes number ‘1’. 

Suspicious Requests

How to spot a fake PayPal email or some other highly-trusted companies offering online payments? Well, first of all, PayPal or your bank will never ask you to provide the login details anywhere outside their website. If you’ve received a nosy request like this, not only should you ignore it but delete it immediately. 

Another common example is a classic “You’re a winner!” message. The good news is very few people fall into this trap these days. Nevertheless, refrain from sharing your personal data other than your name unless you know it’s safe. Also, if an unknown sender is urging you to respond or take immediate action, it’s better to ignore it.

Verify the domain name

There are several well-known domains everyone is familiar with but what if an email was sent from the one you don’t know? How to verify if an email address is real or fake? In that case, you should search for websites that can scan domains and provide insightful details. You could use a non-profit public-benefit corporation ICANN. Simply enter the domain name in the box and verify the validity of a received email.

Check the website manually

Entering the website’s address manually is a simple and quick practice. How to tell if an email is fake based on the domain? If you’ve received a too-good-to-be-true offer from some allegedly well-established company, just open the message and without clicking on anything inside it enter the name into your search engine. If it’s not legitimate, you’re very likely to find warnings from other users.

Consider Email Validation Tools

If you’re still not sure how to tell if an email address is fake, consider using a fake email checker. It’s a piece of software that will do the donkey work for you. Email validators are primarily targeted at companies to clean their listing and improve deliverability. If you don’t feel like checking every single suspicious email manually, this is a great solution for you.

Scammers won’t stop harassing people with suspicious emails. Even though servers and protection against spam have improved, attackers will always find a way around. That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on a few details to avoid getting yourself into cyber traps.

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