Nearly gone are the simple days of grossly misspelled spam, with corny claims and other obvious errors. In the cut-throat world of online crime, today’s successful scammers use advanced match-making methods that rival the best online dating companies as they work to pair their exploits with your work life.
If you have a website, expect scams offering to enhance your page views. If you’re a retailer, watch for the inquiries about large purchase transactions, if you’re a lawyer (I’m resisting any lawyer jokes here) or provide some other type of consulting service, watch for ‘dilemma’s’ where large sums of money are dangled. Similarly, if you’ve posted information about your hobbies or interests on a publicly viewable site, watch for any unsolicited email on those topics.
Watch for key scam signs:
- The email isn’t addressed to you – If the email doesn’t address you personally, it’s likely a scam
- It conveys urgency – Slow down. Do not let a sense of urgency influence your careful review.
- It contains errors – In spelling, grammar, layout, etc.
- You are asked for help in an area outside your expertise – Perhaps you’re asked a different kind of consulting, or service where you would be less sure of yourself – and more likely to be scammed.
- The email is from overseas – or even out of state – The farther a field, the more likely it’s a scam.
- The email is vague, you need to engage to learn more
- If there are facts, check them out in a search engine or contact the company directly
- If money is involved, are large, round numbers cited? Scammers love big round numbers
- Curiosity leads to careless clicking – If the email isn’t clear, clicking links to learn more is a poor choice.
- You need to download an attachment to learn more – If the email refers you to an attachment ‘to learn more’ or a similar ruse, don’t open it.
- You are asked to do something that is ‘irregular’ maybe help bring money into the country, or cash a check, etc..? Don’t let greed trip you up. If they’re asking you to do something shady, they’re scammers.
Practice your spam spotting skills – periodic practice helps hone skills against the latest scam styles. Use our Spot the Spam Scam samples to train and test your skills.