Detecting fake eMails

January 19, 2016 at 3:21 am Leave a comment

No More Spam

If you thought getting junk mail in your old postal mail box is annoying, multiply that by 10 and that’s the average number of Spam a typical eMail address receives daily.  Some is annoying (and embarrassing), but many are malicious and criminal with the intent of stealing your personal information or crippling your computer (and smartphone). Here’s how to tell what’s real and what’s not.

Definitions for Bad eMail

SPAM:  Any unwanted electronic mail, or mass mailing. The term was coined in 1993 (See to learn more). Yeah,  geeks come up with some interesting words to describe things. Phishing and spoofing eMails are also spam.

SPOOFING:  This is assuming someone else’s eMail identity to send out eMail in their name. Another type of spoofing is using a generic eMail address like “” or “”.

PHISHING:  This is a way for the Bad Guys to get your personal information (like bank account numbers, passwords, social security numbers) by pretending to be from a reputable bank, hospital, or business. To see an actual phishing eMail, check out This Phish Ain’t Byte-ing! here. 

Company eMail

These are a hacker’s delight. No where else can a hacker do the most damage with the least amount of effort than sending spam to a company with dozens of dozens of  employees using computers–many who don’t know about basic computer safety and protection.

What You Should Look For

  • eMail with a generic company address (info@, admin@, help@)
  • eMail with no subject.
  • eMail with a very vague or 1-word subject. (Of course this could be a legitimate eMail from somebody just too lazy to type.)
  • eMail with only a link to click in the body of the message.
  • eMail from a department or a person you don’t know or worked with.
  • eMail from an store about a purchase you didn’t make.

Personal eMail

Since you can’t even interact with a website or social page without giving your eMail address, it’s natural for your Yahoo, GMail, or other personal eMail account to be flooded with nice, space-wasting spam.

What You Should Look For

Look for the same things as described in “Company eMail”. However, you’ll also need to watch out for these as well:

  • An eMail from someone you do know, but has a subject or writing style that would be strange coming from them.
  • eMails that claim your bank account has a security problem and they need your password or account number to fix it.
  • eMails describing ways to “enhance” certain parts of your body. (You know the parts they’re talking about!)
  • eMails with subject about celebrity gossip from people you don’t know.
  • eMails from a stranger looking for a date.

Anytime you suspect an eMail to be Spam,

  1. Delete it (don’t open it or click on anything within the message).
  2. Put it in your eMails Spam / Junk Folder
  3. If your eMail has that ability, blacklist the address.

Contact the Sender directly (don’t click on anything in the letter!). If it’s a business or online shop, go on their website directly or call their customer service number that’s on their website.  It’s better to delete and ask the sender to resend than to blindly openand endure the grief–for you, your IT department, and your company.

~The Computer Cat



Entry filed under: computer help, eMail, gMail, grandparents, malware, newbies, scams, seniors. Tags: , , , , .

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