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The Latest Email Scams & How to Spot Them

Posted by Calico UK - 11:05 on 30 March 2021

Image of iPhone with Mail app showing new mail items.

Spam and Scams! Since lockdown last year, there has been a 30,000% increase in the amount of phishing emails doing the rounds. Criminals have been going all out with spam emails to try trick internet users. Whether it's trying to cash in on Covid, sending emails to pretend to be people you know, or faked message to try and get your login details, we've seen it all.

So how do we tell what's a genuine alert, and what's a spam or phishing email?

Here are our top 5 points to watch for:

1 - Urgency. Does the message have a subject line and message content that is designed to make you react. Does it threaten you in some way? Panic can often lead a person to click on a link, in the moment, rather than taking a considered response.

2 - Email Sender. Who has sent the email, do you recognise both the senders name and the corresponding email address? Spoofers will use a name you might recognise, but use a fake email for sending. They might use a generic email address like Spammers will also fake the email to appear to come from your own email address, to try and bypass spam filters and to shock you.

3 - Impersonal. Are the greetings within the message what you'd expect? If the Dear *name* looks impersonal, or the signature of the email doesn't look how it usually would, think carefully before clicking on any links.

4 - Bad spelling and grammar. Spam emails are often very carefully created, and look like emails from the real companies. They can be hard to spot. But we see a lot of spam emails where the content is poorly created - bad spelling and grammar are a massive giveaway to the email being a fake.

5 - Buttons & Links. Without actually clicking on links you can see where a link or button will go. If you move your mouse over a hyperlink, the destination (if you were to click) should show along the bottom edge of your browser window. Check and see where the link is trying to take you. If it's to an address that isn't the correct domain, then steer well clear!

So our overall advice is to take your time, don't be rushed by an email that appears to need your instant response. Check those details of the email to see if it's an email from a company you'd expect to hear from, or just a chance/random email. Look for obvious signs, and the less obvious ones, like those hidden link destinations. If you're not sure, or you are concerned, please do check with the organisation involved to see if it's genuine, or forward to our email address and we can check it for you.

Below are 3 recent example emails we received, to illustrate some of the things to watch for:

Example of a spam message

Example of a spam message

Example of a spam message

Calico email services come with Basic free antispam options built in, you can enable these via your mail control panel. If you need any assistance, then please contact our team. We also have the advanced Calligate Antispam bolt on, which offers more in-depth filtering functionality.

Your Comments

Comment by Kim C at 15:49 on 30 March 2021.
I've only fallen for a phishing scam once, and the perpetrators were very clever. On Christmas morning I received an email from the host (not Calico) of one of my web sites telling me that the domain name had expired. It was for a domain that I knew was up for renewal soon. The message sounded very much like the host's formulations and because I was tired and quite busy that morning -- I did panic, thinking I'd misremembered the due date for newing and clicked on the link to renew it. I plugged in my credit card number but a verification code didn't come to my phone from my bank. I looked closer at the email and realised it wasn't genuine. More panic. I went to call my bank but of course it was Christmas morning. I called a number on the back of the credit card but was sent all round the houses because there was a skeleton staff. I managed to block the card in time but it was close!
Comment by Kirsty @ Calico at 14:52 on 05 April 2021.
That's the thing, most emails would be obvious spam as it might be a bank you've never used, or a company you've never bought from. But they just have to hit lucky at a busy time with something that resonates as genuine and you can get caught.
Comment by Tez Watson at 15:09 on 15 April 2021.
I had two recently that appeared to be legit. They said my mailbox was full and that action was required. Everything looked plausible so I followed the link and inserted my control panel password (probably used the wrong one anyway!) Phoned Kirsty at the second occurrence and found it was fake. Lesson learned.
Comment by Kirsty Pryer at 11:36 on 16 April 2021.
Hi Tez, I'll follow up re updating your password details.

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