WEB & TECH / MAY. 06, 2014
version 3, draft 3

How to Scope Out Junk Email Proposals

The majority of people get junk email proposals sent to them every day. If you think you don’t, then check your spam mail box. Most likely you’ll find a long list of them. I recently received the following email. There are several reasons that clue me in to knowing that this is a junk email proposal. First of all, how did this person find me and also wants to work with me specifically without even mentioning my name in the email text? Secondly, this person’s employer wants to make a goodwill donation through me. Why can’t they make the donation themselves directly to the cause they want to donate to. Thirdly, the general tone of the email does not sound professional, but rather like a scam.

Hello,

I was asked specifically by my employer to contact you about a project so please do not ignore this as it is no mistake. She wants to make a huge goodwill donation through you and needs your help. Your assistance will benefit you greatly. For details, reply ONLY to her private email address below: PRIVATE EMAIL: (email was listed here)

Thank you,

NAME (Assistant to Madame …)

Some Signs that an Email is Junk Mail

# 1 You Don’t Know who the Sender is

This is not an exclusive rule, because you can get some legitimate emails from people you don’t know. However, if the name looks weird and unfamiliar, never click on any links you see in the email. You don’t want to unwittingly unleash a virus in your computer. Also be wary that spammers can make the email seem friendly as if coming from your grandmother for example or someone else you know. The general context of the email will define itself.

# 2 The Email is Littered With Poor Grammar

Just imagine life as a spammer. You don’t really care about appearing professional and having a grammatically correct email. All you care about is getting your spam mail sent out to as many people and as quickly as possible. This leaves a lot of room for mistakes in the text of the email.

# 3 You Have no Idea why you’re Receiving This Email

If that is the case, chances are this is a junk email. If you get an email from some random site you’ve never visited, most likely it’s a junk email. Remember, that these types of emails are designed to appear legitimate by including current events, news or other interests of yours. Website owners of online magazines, news sources, blogs etc cannot send out email updates unless people have subscribed to their email list. If you haven’t signed up to receive these updates, it’s a junk email.

# 4 Is this Email Legitimate With Valid Links?

One major risk involved in opening a junk email as mentioned earlier is the danger of opening some sort of malware onto your computer. Such viruses can steal your personal information. Yahoo Contributor, Melanee Cardoza explains the following regarding two steps in discerning whether or not a link in an email is legitimate. She advises that you should hover your mouse over the blue linked text but don’t actually click on the link. Hover until a box with a link pops up. For example, this is what a legitimate link looks like: www.hulu.com. If you hover over it, the link matches the link listed in the blue pop up box. This link is not legitimate: www.associatedcontent.com. If you hover over it, the spam link will show up in the blue pop up box. Also, such spam emails may ask you to download or open an attachment. This is very dangerous and can unleash a malware program onto your computer. For more information, check out Melanee’s article: How to Tell if Email is Junk Spam Mail.

# 5 You are Asked to Confirm Personal Information

One of the more prevalent junk email scams is when a spammer sends you an email, supposedly from PayPal and asks you to confirm or update your personal information. Never click on any links through such an email. PayPal warns its members that if you ever receive an email from them, they will always have it addressed to the name on the account. I have received many scam emails from people claiming to be PayPal. However, they’ve always been addressed to PayPal Member. So what’s the bottom line? Don’t click on links in such emails or respond with your personal information or passwords. If you do need to update your information, you should go to the actual site and make sure it has the green lock symbol listed in the link address so you know you didn’t end up on a phishing site. Such sites are made to resemble the actual site like your banking site for example. These scammers fool people into thinking they’re on the actual website and then people enter their username and password and the scammers now have access to your account.

If you’re looking for an Internet reference source to scope out scams and other online misinformation, check out Snopes to try to get some answers. Remember to be vigilant in protecting your personal information and identity when you navigate online. Don’t open attachments or click on links from emails that fit the mold of those discussed in this article.  

 

Photo Credit: Mirna Bard

Creative Commons License 

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