Scam Emails

By June 23, 2014April 19th, 2018Email

Scam emails can generally be spotted as they request sensitive information, such as usernames, passwords or any answer to security questions. Never give out username or passwords through email. In order to perform a quick verification of the legitimacy, check where the scam emails are being sent from.

For example: if the email sender claims to represent an organization, check that their email address is actually associated with the organization’s website. E.g., if the email sender claims to be from Google, check if their email address ends in @accounts.google.com. If not, then the email may not be legitimate.

Another give-away is that scam emails will almost never address you by name; rather, they will begin with a line such as “Dear site owner”, “Dear Sir”, or even simply “Hello”. Note that more elaborate scams may address you by name; often they will have bought mailing lists with names on them for scam purposes.

Handling Scam Emails

The best way to handle scam emails is to flag them as spam in your email client. This way your email system will learn to recognize such messages in the future, and will also report the message to your email provider, thus helping prevent other people from receiving them. See instructions for instructions for Gmail here.

You should never reply to scam emails; this will compel them to send you further emails, and will often get your email address placed on lists kept by scammers of recipients potentially susceptible to scam, thus inviting even further scam emails.

Common Types of Scam Email

Domain Scam

Domain Scams target companies with emails stating that their “competition’s” domain has expired.

They state that there is:

  • High demand for this particular domain name.
  • Big competitors are trying to buy this domain name

For Example: you have a website that sells shoes to all different parts of Australia (such as Melbourne, Sydney, Queensland) and your domain is www.shoewebsite.com.au, the scam email will suggest you buy a domain like “www.shoesmelbourne.com.au” or “www.shoesqueensland.com.au”etc. This tactic is never ending.

This is a bad idea for a couple reasons:

  • To cover every area of sales with domain names would costs hundreds of dollars.
  • The company advertising this domain name will most likely overcharge excessively for each domain name.
  • You already have your brand, it is a lot cheaper just to put /area/ eg. www.shoeswebsite.com.au/melbourne/ etc

Payment Notice Scam

A common type of scam email takes the appearance of an official notice from a company or government agency, often demanding a fine to be paid. These are often very effective, as they work by exploiting fear of authority, and often threaten further penalties should the “fine” not be paid immediately.

Another common incarnation of this strategy is to claim to represent a company – for example, a domain registrar stating that your domain will expire soon and that you must pay to have it renewed.

As with other types of scam emails, these can be reliably identified by checking the sender address and whether they address you by name.

SEO Scam

Many scam emails offer SEO services. See Zeumic Spam / Scam SEO.

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