The email looked legitimate and fishy at the same time. It had what appeared to be the URL of a legitimate chapter of the Better Business Bureau and was mostly well-written. Yet it did have a single sentence with a grammatical error that should have raised a bigger red flag than it did. No genuine email would say, “Your emails is…” At least I hope not; the grammar nazi in me would have a fit.
Against my better judgment I clicked on the link anyway. Part of my responsibility to my employer is reputation management, so reading an online review of our company is critically important. I didn’t want to miss something real that might cause problems. This time, I was lucky – I escaped without a virus. Our company firewall and antivirus software saved me from a world of hurt. But you shouldn’t assume those safeguards make you invincible. You still must be vigilant and not get careless.
On closer examination there was another red flag I admit I missed – although the link in the body of the email had a legitimate-looking URL, when I went back and hovered my cursor over it a completely different URL appeared. That would have been a dead giveaway if I’d been paying attention. Lesson learned.
Top signs an email might be a scam
There are lots of ways to spot a fake email. Here are just a few:
- You don’t have an account with the supposed sender. This time it seemed it could be legit because my employer is accredited with at least one Better Business Bureau chapter. But often this kind of email appears to be from a company you’ve had no dealings with.
- Misspelled words and bad grammar. Most email marketing comes from educated professionals who proofread their communications meticulously before sending. Lucky for us, the scammers don’t write quite as well.
- You don’t recognize the sender’s email address. We’re not affiliated with any New York BBB but in my mind it was conceivable there was a main office out of state. But often you can spot a clearly phony address.
- The URLs don’t agree with the text. If in doubt about a link, hover over it and see what pops up on your screen. That is the actual hyperlink destination and if it’s different, don’t click!
If any of these conditions exist, don’t open any attachments or click any links. Delete the email. To be safe, look up the supposed sender and contact them directly for verification.
The Charlotte, NC Better Business Bureau released its own warning late last month. Click here to read more.
Have you had a near-miss with a scam email, or worse? Do you have a great tip on avoiding being taken in? Share your comment before leaving!