3 min read

How to Spot and Report Email Scams

Cristina POPOV

April 11, 2024

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How to Spot and Report Email Scams

An estimated 3.4 billion emails a day are sent by cybercriminals, designed to look like they come from trusted senders. These malicious messages pose as legitimate communications from banks, retailers, social media platforms – any trusted entity – with one goal: to lure you into revealing sensitive information, sending money, or installing malware on your devices.

Phishing emails account for 1.2% of global email traffic, and each one has the potential to lead to financial ruin, identity theft, or a cyber attack.

In this rapidly evolving battleground, knowledge is your strongest defense. Staying informed about the latest phishing strategies and equipping yourself with the right tools can mean the difference between falling victim to these schemes and emerging unscathed.

Signs of a phishing email

Phishing is a type of cyber-attack in which criminals attempt to trick people into revealing sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account details by sending fake emails that appear to be from legitimate companies or organizations. These emails often try to lure you into clicking on malicious links or opening harmful attachments.

Spotting the telltale signs of a phishing email can protect you and others from falling victim to these scams.

1. Incorrect sender's address. Carefully check the sender's email address. Phishing emails often have an address that doesn't match the company or organization they're pretending to be from. For example, an email claiming to be from Apple but sent from "applesupport@gmail.com" is likely a phishing attempt.

2. Spelling and grammar mistakesclearly indicate a phishing email. Legitimate businesses take great care to ensure their emails are error-free, whereas phishers are likelier to make these mistakes. For instance, an email from "PayaPal" with typos is a red flag. However, it's important to note that with the rise of AI chatting and writing bots, grammatical mistakes are becoming less common.

3. Urgent or threatening language. Phishing emails frequently use language that attempts to create a sense of urgency or threat to pressure you into taking action quickly. Phrases like "Your account will be suspended if you don't update your details immediately" are common phishing tactics.

4. Requests for personal information: Be wary of any email that asks you to provide sensitive information like passwords, credit card numbers, or social security numbers. Reputable companies will never ask for this information via email.

5. Suspicious links or attachments: Hover your mouse over any links or attachments in the email to see if the URLs or file names look suspicious or out of place.

Related: 1 in 5 financial-themed spam emails in August are phishing attempts

Outsmart scammers with two powerful tools

Online scams that were once easy to spot have become increasingly difficult to detect with the naked eye as spammers employ the latest technologies to craft their impersonation emails.

Fortunately, you can fight fire with fire by harnessing cutting-edge solutions specifically designed to help you stay one step ahead of these nefarious actors.

Here are two examples:

1. Email Protection: This solution for Outlook and Gmail requires a one-time setup. After that, all incoming emails are automatically scanned before reaching your inbox, regardless of the platform you use—be it a computer, laptop, phone, or tablet. Email Protection intelligently displays labels in your inbox, clearly identifying safe and potentially unsafe emails and empowering you to make informed decisions. Additionally, it provides comprehensive statistics and threat detection details for each protected email account, allowing you to stay vigilant and proactive.

Bitdefender Email Protection is available now at no additional cost for new and existing Bitdefender Premium Security, Premium Security Plus, Ultimate Security, and Ultimate Security Plus plan holders.

2. Scamio is our next-generation, powerful scam-detection chatbot that quickly verifies the legitimacy of emails, links, QR codes, messages, and SMSs before they can harm you, your family, or your finances.

You can start chatting with Scamio right now, as it is completely free, and you can access it on any device or operating system via your web browser or through Facebook Messenger.

What to do when receiving a phishing email

If you receive an email you suspect is a phishing attempt, here's what to do and not do with it.

1. Don't engage with it: Do not click on any links, open attachments, or reply to the message.

2. Forward the email to the company or organization being impersonated: Many companies have dedicated email addresses or reporting systems for phishing attempts.

3. Report it to your email provider: Most email providers have options to report phishing emails directly from your inbox.

4. Report it to government agencies: Report phishing attempts to agencies like the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

By learning to identify phishing emails, reporting them promptly using and sharing Scamio with others, you can help protect yourself and dear ones from these cyber threats.



Cristina POPOV

Cristina is a freelance writer and a mother of two living in Denmark. Her 15 years experience in communication includes developing content for tv, online, mobile apps, and a chatbot.

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