With so many emails entering our in-boxes how do we know which are legitimate and which should be deleted? Scammers are becoming better at disguising themselves and we all need to carry some degree of scepticism in spotting these emails. Sharpen your spam detection skills with these 10 ways to spot spam.


1. Do you know the sender?
Do you actually know Richard Branson? If not, why are you receiving email from him? Make a judgement on whether the sender is credible.


2. Does the email address match the sender name?
Check the email address matches the sender name. Is this really John Doe?
John Doe
You can reveal the email address in Microsoft Outlook by clicking “Reply All” and double clicking on the sender name in the “To:” field.
John Doe revealed as jacob
Some phishing emails even come from similar looking domain addresses, this could be something like [email protected], so be cautious with emails that involve money or personal/company information.


3. Where is this email coming from?
Do you even know any Nigerians? Is the origination of the email questionable?

If the origin of the email seems unlikely, think twice before engaging in a dialogue.


4. Is the email addressed to you?
Ever received an email addressed to:

“Dear account holder”
“Hello Customer”
Or even no-one at all!

If you are legitimately receiving an email specifically for you, from Paypal for instance, the email will come addressed to YOUR NAME. Be wary of emails addressing you by anything other than your name or nothing at all.


5. Do the links look dubious?
Hovering over links will reveal the URL, however, if you’re unsure don’t click it. Avoid logging in to accounts from an email link, go directly to the website and log in the way you usually would directly into the webpage.


6. What kind of attachments does the email have?
Were you expecting an attachment from that person? Have you received an invoice for something you never signed up for? Don’t download attachments you weren’t expecting to receive.

Malware is malicious software that can gain access to your computer, attacks range from stealing financial information to holding your files for ransom. It can even be injected into common files types such as Microsoft Word (.doc & .docx) and Excel (.xl & .xls) documents. Not downloading suspicious attachments plus having an anti-virus and a firewall installed on your computer will help to protect you against these attacks.

Suspicious attachments often, but not always, have extensions like .rar, .jsr and .exe.


7. Does the spelling seem unusual?
Does an email trying to sound official read like it was written by someone who doesn’t speak English well? Is the name of the of the business spelt incorrectly in the email address? Misspelling and poor grammar could be a sign of spam.


8. Don’t unsubscribe from spam
The natural thing to do when you get a newsletter you didn’t sign up for, is to unsubscribe, but if this is spam; clicking any links in the email will confirm your email as a target. You’ll actually be signing up for more!


9. In a rush for payment
A common pattern is urging you to make a payment first and ask questions later. Always get confirmation for payments to new accounts and do some double checking if anything seems unusual or unexpected. Don’t blindly follow instructions regarding money or personal/company information when it comes in email form.


10. Take the MailGuard test: Can you spot the Phish?

Ask us how we can help you set up MailGuard to filter your incoming email.


…and on a fun note check out this video of James Veitch replying to spam.


What to do once you’ve identified a spam email? Report it: How To Report Spam