What is a scam? More than likely if the email is from a person unknown to you and wants to give you money for a lottery you never entered, or inheritance from a person unrelated to you, or asks you to transfer large amounts of money it is probably a scam.

There  are 5 Common E-mail Scams, though there are a thousand flavors of e-mail scams, the methods of detection are fairly straightforward. Here are five common types of scams and some of the clues you can use to spot them.

After reviewing these or any other examples on our website, you are better equipped to identify most e-mail scams on your own.

The Imitator

Many scams imitate legitimate companies in an effort to fool consumers. The simplest way to avoid these fakes is to never click on a link sent in an unsolicited e-mail. Find the company link on your own using Google, or, if you know the company address, type it in yourself.

As an example you receive a security advisory. No legitimate company is ever going to send you a Security Center Advisory in e-mail; that alone is enough to tell you it’s fake.

Nor will the FBI send you millions of dollars or the DHL hundreds of thousands in return for your personal details.

The Urgent Offer

The offer is from a company you’ve never heard of.  This is really the only identifier needed to know that this is fake.

Legitimate companies don’t randomly spam consumers offering loans..

The name of recipient isn’t yours. If the name on the To: line isn’t yours, then you’re one of the thousands (maybe millions) of names hidden on the Bcc: line.

The email is urging you to make a financial transaction under time pressure. If you feel you have to act quickly, you are more likely to react without thoroughly investigating.

You are asked to enter financial information. In fact, entering personal financial information on sites you aren’t absolutely sure are safe is almost sure to result in someone stealing from you. Using VPN IP detection can help enhance your online security, but always stay vigilant for these warning signs to avoid falling victim to scams.

The ‘Official Notice’

These scams attempt to fool consumers into believing they’ve received an e-mail that requires them to take some action. Often purporting to be from government agencies, these e-mails notify you of a problem. As an example you get an email in May from the IRS, a time when people are more likely to believe an announcement is from the IRS.  However: The IRS does not send official notices via e-mail.

This is really the only information you need to know this is fake, but there are several others as well… the email address is not from IRS (or FBI) , the phone numbers are fake etc

 The Lottery

Foreign lottery scams are rampant. If you did not enter a lottery, you did not win a lottery. If you did enter the lottery, you still are very unlikely to win, and you would not be notified via e-mail. This is a straightforward scam to get your information.

Some of the common flaws: The sender is a person. No organization is going to send a notice from a personal e-mail, and they will use their organization’s e-mail, not a free e-mail service.

The sender does not know your name.

There is no such lottery. A simple Web search on the lottery name shows that it does not exist – and several results that say it is a scam.

The information request. Collecting your information to sell to other criminals is the first goal. But if you respond with this information you will surely be asked for bank account and bank routing numbers as well so they can ‘deposit’ the money.

 The Survey

These scams rely on people’s desire to weigh in on issues and be heard on the issues of the day. In an election year one flavor is the voting survey, but any hot topic will do: global warming, attitudes towards war, the handling of the latest natural disaster, and so on.

If your e-mail service provider flags the e-mail as questionable, it probably is.

The sender sounds official, until you look at the e-mail address. No legitimate organization is going to spam people with surveys – or send any e-mail from an address like june10th@pop16.odn.ne.jp

The sender does not know your name.


Check out our collection of scams here!