JavaScript disabled. Please enable JavaScript to use My News, My Clippings, My Comments and user settings.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

If you have trouble accessing our login form below, you can go to our login page.

10 signs you're about to get scammed

Date

Matt Petronzio

Zoom in on this story. Explore all there is to know.

<em>Photo illustration: Michele Mossop</em>

Photo illustration: Michele Mossop

This post was originally published on Mashable.

You can't imagine ever getting scammed. Besides being a diligent internet user who knows the ins and outs of web terrain, you have an email account that siphons all harmful messages into a neat little folder, which you never even check. So you're completely safe, right?

Think again.

<em>Photo: Marina Oliphant</em>

Photo: Marina Oliphant

Scam emails and viruses can fall through the cracks every now and then, and when they do, be ready. Studies show that email scams target people who are likely to fall for something more than once. You don't want to be lumped into that group.

Scammers are getting smarter these days, too. It's not just that one "Nigerian prince" from years ago – there's a whole royal family of scammers out there.

Here are 10 indicators you should watch out for when going through your inbox. Keep your guard up and you'll have nothing to worry about.

1. Disembodied links

Here are the types of emailed links that should make you especially wary:

  • Links that are the only content in the body of an email

  • Shortened links that don't display the actual address, such as bit.ly and tinyurl

  • Hyperlinked text (for the same reason as shortened links – there's no indication of what you are clicking on)

Links that are the only content in the body of an email

Shortened links that don't display the actual address, such as bit.ly and tinyurl

Hyperlinked text (for the same reason as shortened links – there's no indication of what you are clicking on)

When in doubt, don't click. But to help you out, browsers such as Google Chrome can reveal a link's full address when you hover over it with your mouse cursor. For shortened links, you can use nifty link expanders such as LongURL to view the real content before clicking.

2. Inordinate number of recipients

If you get an email with hundreds of email addresses in the recipient field, yet the message seems directed toward one person, your scam sense should be on high alert.

3. Vague, generic or non-existent subject lines

Sure, you send emails without subjects to your friends all the time, but if an email pops up from an unrecognised address with "(no subject)", be careful. The same goes for vague or generic subject lines, including "Fwd: private" or "Free to look!" If you have no idea what you're opening, it's probably best to leave it alone.

4. Intense enthusiasm

WHEN IT COMES TO EMAIL SECURITY, CAPS LOCK CAN BE MORE THAN JUST ANNOYING – it can indicate spam. Overly enthusiastic emails with emphasis and exclamations ("I JUST LOST 45lbs W/ THE X-Fit fitness program!!1!!) are sure fire signs the information isn't what it seems.

5. Grammar and spelling

You don't have to be a grammar nut to notice odd mistakes in scam emails. Look out for questionable syntax and major typos, especially if the email supposedly comes from a reputable company or bank.

Also watch out for scammers that purposely misspell things to avoid your spam filter, such as "V1agr@" instead of "Viagra". (Tip: you probably shouldn't be buying Viagra via email, anyway.)

6. Strange requests

This one's easy: If someone is emailing you for medical assistance or writes "Help me cheat on my husband", it's just not legit. That's what emergency contacts are for. And Snapchat.

7. Urgency

People don't typically use email to send urgent messages of an emergency nature. If you get an email that claims a situation is a matter of life or death – or a desperate person who needs money wired now – it's safe to assume the sender wouldn't be targeting you, a stranger, in the first place.

8. Sensitive information requests

Unfortunately, people accidentally send secure information to scammers more often than you would expect. This is how scammers (that is, smart scammers) operate – many ask for personal information (credit card numbers, passwords) and disguise emails to look official. Companies, schools, banks and other institutions won't ask you to transmit sensitive information in an email.

9. Name-sender disagreement

Scam email addresses often have different names to dupe the recipient. Check the address before assuming something is true – an email from Match.com wouldn't have the email address "contact@lightsaberduel.com" (true story).

10. Sure fire guarantees

You should know by now that nothing on the internet is guaranteed. Promises to boost your sex life or quick money for working from home shouldn't be taken seriously. "Watch this video and women will adore you?" More like: "Click this link and regret it."

Mashable is the largest independent news source covering digital culture, social media and technology.

37 comments

  • Any email that starts with "Dear Friend" is a high degree that it's a scam.

    Any that come from one email address and then says to reply to a different one.

    Any that say they are XYZ Company but have Google or Hotmail reply to addresses.

    And about 90% of all other emails you get....

    Commenter
    Puggs
    Location
    Melbourne
    Date and time
    March 21, 2013, 4:27PM
    • the email address side of scams is amazing. Why the heck would anyone reply to a hotmail / yahoo / gmail etc account when it is supposedly coming from a big company. Yet people seem incapable of putting two and two together

      Commenter
      abs
      Location
      not nigeria
      Date and time
      March 22, 2013, 12:01AM
  • I am wary of emails (even from known sources) that scream "VIRUS ALERT", or similar, in the subject line. The best policy is; if you have the slightest uneasiness about an unexpected email, delete it. You'll never go far wrong.

    Commenter
    MichaelH
    Location
    Mitcham
    Date and time
    March 21, 2013, 5:03PM
    • Read this comment and you will have won $100 million dollars. A Nigerian Irish prince

      Commenter
      Joe
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 5:04PM
      • Would you like my bank details

        Commenter
        Brian of Narangba
        Location
        Qld
        Date and time
        March 22, 2013, 8:36AM
    • Anything that says - "Security Alert" or "This is not a scam" or uses the word "Trusted" more than once should be avoided unless it's from someone you know (and use the "Detail link" in your email header to check anyway

      Commenter
      A
      Location
      Lert
      Date and time
      March 21, 2013, 5:11PM
      • A further addendum to the sensitive information point. Any email that takes you to a website which asks you to verify passwords, bank/credit card details, even names and addresses. Never click on a web link in an email, unless you're absolutely sure its legit. Even then, it's safer not to.

        Commenter
        DeeK
        Date and time
        March 21, 2013, 5:18PM
        • I recently received an email with the header "Masters of Photography" from World Wide Art Books INC. It was an unsolicited offer to give this company money to have my work published in a promotional photo book.

          When I declined this offer, which sounded a bit dubious, I received a return email from these people simply saying "lmao". Hardly very professional.

          I would urge people to do their homework and carefully assess "offers" like this. It could cost you a lot of money for very little result.

          Commenter
          lenz
          Date and time
          March 21, 2013, 5:55PM
          • why did you even reply?

            Commenter
            amazing man
            Date and time
            March 22, 2013, 8:44AM
          • So you confirmed your email address was active for them? Thats probably what they wanted in the first place..... lol

            Commenter
            4wd4wd
            Location
            Sydney
            Date and time
            March 22, 2013, 9:35AM

        More comments

        Comments are now closed