How to spot an Email scam: 10 tips to protect yourself online

How to spot an Email scam: 10 tips to protect yourself online

Date: 23/01/24

Author: Shia Mitchell

In today's digital age where online shopping, social networking and email communication have become an integral part of our lives, it's essential to stay vigilant against email scams. Scammers often target individuals who spend a lot of time shopping online or those whose email addresses may have fallen into the wrong hands. To help you stay safe, here are our top 10 tips on how to spot an email scam plus what to do if you encounter one. The great news? Our easy tips are suitable for everyone, regardless of age or tech-savviness. Whether you're a seasoned online shopper or just getting started, these insights will help keep your personal information secure.  

A phishing scam is a fraudulent attempt to deceive individuals or organizations into disclosing sensitive and confidential information, such as usernames, passwords, credit card numbers, or personal identification details. These scams typically occur through deceptive electronic communication channels, like emails or text messages, where the attacker impersonates a trusted entity, like a bank, a popular website, or a government agency. Phishers use convincing messages with urgent or threatening language, often containing malicious links or attachments that, when clicked, lead victims to fake websites designed to steal their personal data. It is essential to remain cautious and informed to protect yourself from falling prey to these deceptive schemes. 


Community Fibre’s top 10 tips for spotting an email scam: 



1. Typos and unusual language 

Emails from reputable sources are usually well-written and free of glaring errors. If you spot numerous typos, grammatical mistakes, or unusual language usage, it's a red flag. Scammers often overlook language details, making their emails a prime target for suspicion. 


2. Unofficial or strange sender name 

Pay attention to the sender's name. Scammers may use unofficial or strange sender names to deceive you. Be cautious of email addresses that don't match the sender's name or have suspicious domains. 


3. Requesting personal or sensitive information 

Legitimate organizations rarely ask for personal or sensitive information via email. If an email requests your Social Security number, bank details, or passwords, it's likely a scam. Never share such information through email. 


4. Creating unnecessary urgency 

Scammers often employ fear tactics by creating a sense of urgency. They might claim your account is in danger or that you'll lose a fantastic opportunity if you don't act immediately. Don't fall for this pressure; take your time to verify the email's authenticity.


5. Low-quality or outdated design 

Authentic emails from reputable organizations usually have polished designs and up-to-date logos. Scam emails may use low-quality images, buttons, or outdated website replicas. If it looks unprofessional, proceed with caution. 


6. Requesting unexpected payments 

Be wary of emails asking for unexpected payments, especially when you didn't initiate any transactions. Scammers might pose as friends, family, or service providers to trick you into sending money. 


7. Asking for verification via login 

Phishing scams often involve fake login pages that appear identical to real ones. If an email directs you to log in or verify your account, avoid clicking links in the email itself. Instead, visit the website directly by typing the URL in your browser. 


8. Offers that are too good to be true 

Scammers know that everyone loves a good deal. If an email promises unbelievable discounts, prizes, or offers that seem too good to be true, exercise caution. Verify the source before taking any action. 


9. Repeated request for verification via login 

Scammers may pester you with multiple emails, all urging you to verify your account or login. If you receive such requests repeatedly, it's a sign of a potential scam. Legitimate organizations don't harass you in this manner. 


10. Using part of your email address as a first name 

Some scammers attempt to personalize their emails by using part of your email address as a first name. While this can make an email appear more convincing, it's a common tactic used by scammers. Always double-check the sender's authenticity. 


How Email scammers target over 60’s 

For people over 60, the internet is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a lifeline, as services in the UK - from banks to government services and supermarkets - become increasingly digitised. With one in five over-60s not feeling confident spotting a scam, we’ve partnered with national charity Age UK London to develop the Digital Skills and Inclusion Programme, to help Londoners better protect themselves while surfing the web. 

According to our latest research findings, while 81% of the over-60s surveyed agree that the internet positively impacts their lives, there is a downside. Internet scams are now at an unprecedented high, and sadly one in five (21%) of Brits aged over 60 have been scammed at least once.    

On average, those who have been conned have fallen victim to fraud twice - whilst for some, it is as many as nine times in their lives - leading to understandable feelings of anger, anxiety, and embarrassment (32%).   

To help bridge the digital skills and confidence gap in over-60s, we’ve partnered with national charity Age UK London to develop the Digital Skills and Inclusion programme, to help Londoners better protect themselves while surfing the web. 


How to stay one step ahead of email scammers 


Email scams come in various forms, but by following these 10 tips, you can protect yourself and your personal information from falling into the wrong hands. Remember, scammers target people of all ages, so staying informed and vigilant is crucial for everyone who uses email and the internet.  

Don't let the fear of scams discourage you from enjoying the benefits of online communication and shopping. Instead, stay educated and practice safe online habits to ensure a secure digital experience. 


More tips on how to protect your digital privacy 

If you'd like to brush up on the latest tips for protecting your digital privacy and staying safe online, check out our handy Digital Privacy blog. For anyone in London in need of in-person assistance on how to use their devices set up online accounts or services, Community Fibre train qualified Digital Ambassadors to help with this and more. You can learn more about our Digital Ambassador programme here.