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Watch out for email scams

It is very easy to mimic someone else, or a large company when sending emails if you know how.

The common term given to such fraudulent activity is called email spoofing.

Email spoofing is often attacks of virus or malware activity and so you need to watch out for these kinds of emails.

I have received spoofed emails in the past from recipients such as:

  • Facebook
  • HSBC
  • Abbey National
  • PayPal
  • MySpace
  • Ebay

How to spot a fraudulent/spoofed email

The first thing to check would be the sender's email address, as often you'll find the email address will be from a subdomain like info@paypal.spam-site.com - although it says PayPal it isn't actually from PayPal.com

Banks will never send you an email asking you to login, or give any personal information. The only emails that banks tend to send are things like receipts or confirmation of an activity you've setup on your online banking profile.

Check any links that emails give you, if they're not the website that the email is supposed to have originated from then don't ever click it.

Using HTML links can be written to look like something that they're not, e.g. www.hotmail.com this link looks like it goes to hotmail.com, but if you click on it you will find yourself on Google because the actual link is written in the HTML where no normal user would think to use.

This method may be used showing paypal.com as the link, but actually in the background it will be taking you to a completely different website.

Also there's a bit of common sense to take into account, for example - I got an email from the sender HSBC Bank UK which was using the email address security@onlineupdate.com and the subject was "Security Notice." - but I don't even have a HSBC bank account, so obviously there's no need for me to ever open this email.

If you're ever unsure about an email it's always a good idea to Google the subject line of the email, or some text from within the email, and see if any other website or blog has flagged this as being a spoofed email, spam email or any other kind of malicious email.

Lastly never open attachments from unknow email senders without Googling them first, and especially make sure that your anti-virus software is turned on.

Like I said, a lot of it is common sense, so don't panic and rush into any email that you may regret later.

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