Countless messages are exchanged online every day, many of them are between strangers. While it'd be nice if everyone was always honest, the reality is the Web has become the new playground for con artists. And knowing how to spot an Internet hoax in your email will keep you from becoming another victim.
Internet hucksters live all over the world. They construct scams that prey on people's greed, sympathies, or naivety.
So if you get a strange email, look out for the following tell-tale signs of a hoax.
1) Typos and Bad English
Many scam emails come from countries where English isn't the primary language. Mistakes in spelling and grammar scream phony.
2) Exploding Offers and Direct Links
Offers that are too good to be true are usually just that. Be wary of direct links in these emails, too. Many will send you to fake pages that contain viruses or attempt to steal your identity.
3) Requests for Personal Information
Banks, credit card companies, and most every other business will almost never ask customers to verify their personal information. That's because they already have it.
4) Picture Emails
Sometimes scammers will send an image of text instead of actual text in their emails. The reason is because they can make the whole picture a link. And if you click anywhere on it, you'll accidentally pull up their phony Website.
5) Generic Greetings
Look out for the "Dear Sir" and "Dear Friend" emails, they're usually fake. Though it's true that even legitimate emailers might not know your name, scammers will almost never know.
6) Virus Detection and Free Scans
No Internet security company notifies customers of detected viruses in their computer this way. So don't click on any links in these emails.
7) Pleas for Help
While it's good to want to help people, keep in mind that those in real need probably won't be emailing strangers for assistance.
8) Known Sender with a Strange Request
If you receive an email from a friend or relative requesting money or help, be careful. Their account might've been stolen. Read these emails closely to ensure they're legitimate. And contact your friend or relative directly to verify.
9) Subject Line Spelled in All Caps
It's not just bad Internet etiquette, it's also a sign of scam.
10) Recipient's Address is Undisclosed
One of the easiest ways to spot an Internet email hoax is by looking at the "To:" box. Scammers usually send fake emails in bulk and your address often won't appear as a recipient.