Tips for Spotting a Fake or Potentially Harmful Email

Yesterday I received a very odd email that when glanced over quickly appeared real, but at the same time set my spidey senses on alert. (Those not familiar with comic book hero Spiderman, this is like an internal alarm for danger.)

Below is an image of the email I received with notes I made to help you spot a fake or potentially harmful email, one that is attempting to steal your account information.

This email is from PayPal, but the same warning signs can apply to emails from banks, credit cards companies and other accounts that may have your personal information.

Tips for spotting a fake or potentially harmful email…

  • The ‘from’ email address should be from the company/vendor: example this should have been something like ‘‘ but instead it was‘. See the difference?
  • If this email was real, the salutation would have addressed me by name, or at least by the name on my account. This email said ‘Dear PayPal Customer”.
  • They requested I click a link to confirm MY account. NEVER click links within an email. Go directly to your account page like you normally would, log in and see if they have posted any messages for you.
  • If you are still not sure, go to the company website and call their customer service department and ask them if they sent you an email. Make sure you go to the website on your own, NOT by clicking any links in the email.

Side note – if someone calls you on the phone to verify your account NEVER give them any information. Tell them you are busy and will call them back. If they offer to give you a phone number to call, tell them no thank you, that you have their phone number, it’s right on your bill or account statement. You can then call the company directly using the phone number you already have to verify the call was real or an attempt to steal your personal information.

Fake PayPal email… (download by clicking this link or my clicking the image below: PayPal_Spoof_Fake_Email.pdf


5 Responses to Tips for Spotting a Fake or Potentially Harmful Email
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  4. Tina Poole Finocchiaro
    July 4, 2012 | 8:56 am

    Sandy, thanks for taking the time to inform people of this Internet danger. I am always surprised how many people are unaware of these scams. You are a gem! Xoxo

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