How to spot a scam e-mail

It can happen multiple times a day, an e-mail from your bank or from a well known company you recognise. It all looks very convincing it has your name and is sent to your e-mail address and even has the company logo on the e-mail. They are sending you some really important information on this e-mail and have kindly attached it as a zip file. This is the point when you need to stop and think “why are they sending me a zip file?”

What is a zip file?

A Zip file is a file containing compressed data and looks like the image above. People use zip file to compress large or multiple files into one handy compressed file that can easily be sent by e-mail. The only problem is you cannot see what is in a zip file before you open it and that means that hackers or spammers can exploit you by hiding viruses inside them.

What can I do?

The first thing to do is not panic as long as you do not open the zip file you are ok. The second is to think that your bank will never send a zip file so if you get an e-mail containing one delete it straight away. A Good rule to go by is never open an attachment on an e-mail unless you are expecting one. So it a client of customer is sending you an e-mail with an attachment then fine otherwise don’t open them.

Should I report it?

If the E-Mail is a spoof pretending to be your bank then it is a good idea to report it to the bank directly so they can get it stopped and warn other customers about the e-mail. Usually they have a section on their websites for reporting this kind of thing just Google “Your bank name report spam” and you should find the necessary page.

Other types of scam E-Mail

Another type of scam e-mail is what is called a phishing e-mail. A phishing e-mail is an e-mail sent again to make you think it is from a company you know and may use but they include a link to their website in the e-mail asking you to login. However the link is not to the company website but to a website setup to look like the company website on a different url. The image below shows a spoof e-mail notice the logo is squashed and they want you to click on a link.

//example//

So for example if it was Natwest bank the correct web address would be

http://www.natwest.com/

But a hacker may send you in a phishing e-mail

http://www.natwest.dfgyhrttghrth.eu.com/

An easy was to tell is by hovering over the link and it will show you where it leads.

The best thing to do however is to just open a web browser and go to the bank or company page yourself without clicking the link that way you will be safe.