How to spot fraudulent emails |  Avast

How to spot fraudulent emails | Avast

One would think that phishing emails are a thing of the past and that users are digitally literate in this day and age, a fact that enables them to know which email is a scam and which is not.

And while this may be partially true, email scams – and fraud in general – are becoming more complex, making the task of identifying them even more difficult:

The numbers above come from FBI reports We refer to the losses incurred by people and companies in 2019. As we know, This number has increased dramatically in 2020According to Avast Security Evangelist Luis Corrons, “It’s been a year of fake news and scams, deceiving users while profiting from the pandemic.”

Phishing emails, in general, are email messages that are intended to harm a person or company in some way. Their goal may be to deceive recipients with large sums of money or to obtain important credentials such as email messages and bank passwords. Of course, the scammer might also want to target other data, such as email lists, Social Security numbers, and even personal information like home addresses and phone numbers.

Scammers usually perform tricks that annoy the person or give them an offer they can’t refuse – perhaps an investment opportunity or a great deal for expensive products at a very low price.

How to identify emails that are not hoax

Recognize emails that are not part of some detail scam It is not easy for most users. Especially since some of the things one would think scammers wouldn’t do are a matter of speculation rather than certainty.

However, the email address, wording, and rules used are not a matter of guesswork. More specifically:


This is not a legitimate email address, which means that this email is unlikely to be valid. In this case, a good rule of thumb is to understand what kind of action could have triggered that email being sent.

Generally, scammers are here to lure a quick buck and are rarely in the long game – if any. Which means that items like personalization aren’t something they use in most cases.

The other thing scammers won’t use is accuracy. On the contrary, they will use words like “urgent”, “exclusive”, etc.

Of course, setting a time limit is a common practice in many email marketing campaigns. In fact, most Email Marketing Tools Offers items such as countdown timers that can activate email marketing campaigns.

However, there is a difference between this:


and this is:


Wording such as “urgent action required” or “your account is at risk” will not suit recipients. This is deceptive language in textbooks, especially if it is very general and impersonal.

Marketers, unlike scammers, use techniques that virtually reduce suspicion and allow users to understand that they are talking to an actual brand, through triggered emails and personalized and honest content that makes sense to the user first and foremost.

Different types of phishing emails

Before we dive into the different types of scam emails and how to spot them and protect your accountLet’s point out what goes into attempted deceptive behavior.

Scammers will:

  • Try to deceive recipients of important information and passwords by claiming that there is an urgent – and extremely dangerous – situation at hand.
  • Claiming to be part of a well-known brand or partner of a trusted contact
  • Using bad grammar
  • Claiming the need for more sophisticated and complex procedures than a well-known brand might do (for example, calling a specific phone number or sending scanned documents)

But let’s be more specific.

What is a phishing email?

The most common digital scam is email phishing.

Phishing emails are designed to entice people to commit fraud, by giving away financial data, passwords to protected websites, or other sensitive information.

Reason phishing So successful because it was modeled after human behaviour. The fraudster uses techniques that can manipulate a person’s way of thinking, leading them to believe that there is an urgent situation at hand that requires them to act quickly.

This sense of impending danger prompts users to do so Online Payments Or give away important data.

What is spam?

Spam emails Emails are not inherently dangerous, but they may be. They are intended for a large number of recipients, mainly for commercial purposes, and for the most part, they lack personalization and fragmentation.

The reason why it can be dangerous is the fact that the brand or the person sending the messages to the recipient does not Create an organic email list. Conversely, your data could have been extracted or sold at a high price, such as the content of an email list in general.

What are fraudulent emails?

Email scams, as mentioned earlier, are designed to trick recipients into revealing information that can harm them in a number of ways.

From causing physical and emotional harm to identity theft or creating false claims in illegal activity, email scams can be positively detrimental to a person’s well-being.

What is deception?

plagiarism Scams have the ability to create an email address that is virtually identical to a popular email address that users are likely to interact with, as well as email content that includes said brand logos and colors. These addresses may look legitimate at first glance, like “” instead of Venmo etc.

These emails usually contain a link that may lead the user to download Malware or disclosure of personal information that may result in users losing a significant portion of their assets.

What is malware?

Malware It is a type of program designed to obtain data such as passwords by accessing a computer. This access allows fraudsters to monitor, modify, and eventually steal sensitive data.

Usually, users receive an email with suspicious links or attachments through a suspicious sender address. This email prompts users to download the attachment or click the link as part of a file Standard Operating Procedures It can solve a potential “threat” problem.

How to make sure you are protected every step of the way

The safest way for users to protect themselves from fraudulent email attacks is to educate themselves and be aware of the truth of what is entering a scam.

Until then, here are the steps to follow.

Use backups and two-factor authentication

using backups and Two-factor documentation It can save user data and educate users on what to expect at the same time.

Backup programs can keep the information safe, meaning that the user will not suddenly see their computer erased from all their data, even if the computer is severely damaged.

On the other hand, two-factor authentication will send a message to the user when it comes to suspicious login activity or password change. By requiring the user to verify and authenticate the action, two-factor authentication ensures that the activity is driven by the user’s action.

Keep your operating system and antivirus updated

Your computer’s operating system must always be up-to-date. Some scams can bypass the security provided by an older version of your operating system. This is especially true considering that the operating system can be the target of frequent attacks, largely through outdated versions of Internet browsers as well as fraudulent emails.

The same applies to an updated version of the antivirus. Updated antivirus software It can protect computers from the latest versions of malware.

How to spot a fraudulent email

As mentioned above, the first level of protection, and most importantly, is understanding what fraudulent emails are and what their warning signs are.

away from Verify the sender’s email address Noting the discrepancies between addresses and domain names, users should note that spam emails usually contain subtle errors.

These errors focus on spelling, syntax, and grammar. The level of accuracy varies, just like the evolution of the scam.


This scam email is subtle enough, and the user will fall in love with it at a glance. However, the return address is one of the freebies.

The same goes for the salutation. In the era of customization and evolving Opportunity care, the “Hello user” greeting is quite unusual. And while this email does not ask the user to give up an important password, it does ask the user to follow a suspicious link.

Unsolicited emails with odd-looking links and attachments should always be considered suspicious, provided the recipient doesn’t recognize the sender’s address — or in some cases, even if they do.

Other types of attacks to watch for

Sometimes email scams are just a hoax on top of a well-prepared overall scam. That is why users need to keep abreast of various online attacks.

HTTPS Phishing Attacks

Most of the time, users believe that HTTPS sites and links are safe and legitimate. However, this is no longer the case, as scammers use this protocol in phishing email links to make them appear legitimate and trustworthy.

Make sure that the link you are about to click is not shortened but the original link to the website you are being asked to access. Also note if there is hypertext, as the ‘innocent’ URL inside the email could be plain text linked to a phishing website.

Phishing via SMS and social media

SMS Phishing Phishing attempts to lure someone into giving away sensitive data such as credit card details to install malware on their devices through text messages. The texts appear to be sent by a popular brand or person, and usually contain a link to a page that asks the user to give up their personal information.

Social media phishing is another way scammers obtain sensitive information that can be used for other scams targeting users. Scammers sometimes use social engineering techniques, such as making false claims when collaborating with them Instagram influencers That increases social proof and makes it easier for users to trust them.

Voice Phishing (Voice Phishing)

Phishing is used to get data over the phone. Scammers usually aim to obtain the victim’s credit card details, but identity theft may also be the target in some cases.

Often, a student It will generate a random number, and the scammers will “lure” the caller by claiming that there is a problem with the potential victim’s credit card or even an issue with another family member. In this way, the victim feels the need to take immediate action.


Users often find themselves in a difficult situation, not knowing whether to do so You trust the email address We ask them to take urgent action or not.

In the day and age of complex digital campaigns, it is important to remember that not everything is as it seems and emails that do not stem from a specific user behavior but require a certain type of action that requires data can very well be a scam.

This can threaten the safety of your device and its operating system, be it Windows or macOS, as its own operating system Can be infected with viruses like that.

The facts above underscore the importance of using email marketing, marketing automation, and updated antivirus tools that make a difference.

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