Sadly, most of us have been there: you have either received a spam email from someone in your address book that they clearly didn’t intentionally send you, or worse, you realize your account has been compromised and has been sending these messages out to others.  Sometimes its an obvious fake, but other times, the links or the email content can be deceiving and hard to tell if it’s really a legitimate email or not.  If you’ve realized that your email address was sending spam out to others, or you accidentally clicked on a link someone sent you that you thought was valid, your first and immediate step is to CHANGE YOUR PASSWORD.  Use a unique username/password combination that isn’t used at other sites for the most security, or set up two-factor authentication.  Most times, simply changing your password will stop the problem, and if you have no other symptoms, no further virus checks on your machine or device are needed.

So with the thousands of emails we get daily, how do you help navigate through these emails to spot phishing/spamming emails?  Here are some great tips to live by:

  • Verify The Sender: is it using a valid address from someone you know?  Is the sent-to field blank or filled with names you don’t know?
  • Consider The Content: would this person really be sending you great deals on pharmaceuticals from Canada?  Question if it seems valid before clicking on any links or downloading any files that are attached.
  • Check The Link: If there’s a link in the email, hover over the link with the mouse and make sure both what is written in the email (and the link address where it will actually take you) are the same and appear to be a valid http://www site.  If you’re asked to log in somewhere by following a link (like a bank), never use that link, and go directly to the website itself.
  • Look At Spelling & Grammar: often times, spam will be riddled with poorly worded or spelled items, or weird characters in the email.  This is often an indication that it wasn’t translated well, and should be an instant red flag.
  • Be Leery of “Urgency” or Attachments: common tactics to get your attention are alerting you to an “urgent overdue bill” or something that would make you click on the attachment.  If it was really that urgent of a situation, the sender would probably have called versus sending an email.

Luckily, spam filters built into most of our email programs are getting better at hiding the millions of junk and spam email messages that are sent every day, but occasionally, new ones come through the cracks.  Do your part to help the spread of this….if you receive a spam message from a friend, reply to the email, or call/txt them and have them change their email right away to stop the spread of spam and harm to others.  Let’s live by this rule: the only kind of spam any of us want is the kind we can buy in a can!