Spotting the scam emails

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Have you ever received an email from a well known bank or PayPal telling you that you need to log in to your account? Have you ever followed the links in the email? Did it take you to the right place? You have to be very careful with these emails as they can be scam/spam.

There are a few things to check before you fill out ANY details on the websites and if in doubt one CERTAIN way to avoid scammers.

Firstly, if you do not have an account with that company then you simply delete the email asap, you do not even need to open it. If you do not have a bank account with Barclays, for example, then you know the email is fake.

The next thing to check is the email address that the email has come from, as you can see from the image example above the PayPal email address ends @paypal-security.co.uk and I know that the PayPal website is just paypal.com so I can clearly see that the email address is incorrect.

The website link that will be in the email content, will take you to a website, the website may look exactly like the actual website, so it might not be obvious at first glance that its fake. The best thing to do is to check the website address in your browsers address bar, for example if its different from the proper website address, its fake. The example above took me to a website address that was not www.paypal.com and therefore I knew it was fake. Some hackers can be extremely clever and hide the website address, another way of checking the sites address can be to hover the mouse over a link on the website page and if you look in the bottom left hand corner of the browser – you can see the “potential” link that you would go to. Check it with this link here…. WHERE DO I GO?

The most CERTAIN way to avoid scammers but still check that your account is OK, is to ignore all links within the email and open up a browser separately and type in the website address yourself. So for instance if I wanted to check the email above, I could go to my browser and type in www.paypal.com and log in to my account this way. Then I know for definite that I have logged into the correct place and that no one else has scammed me.

Why do they do it? Simple really, these scammers/hackers/phonies create fake websites that look exactly like the real thing, so that you put your login details into the fields available. Your login details will then be held on a database which will be kept by the scammers and they can then get hold of your details to login to the real website and do whatever it is they fancy doing to your account.

So, make sure you do one or any of these things next time you get an email you are not sure of:

  1. If you do not have the account with the company, delete straight away
  2. Check the email address against the actual website address
  3. Check the links in the email against the actual website address
  4. If in doubt login to the actual website to check your accounts, by typing in the website address yourself in your browser.

For reference these are the actual websites for the companies that you mainly get spam emails for:

PayPal – https://www.paypal.com/

Barclays – http://www.barclays.co.uk

Lloyds TSB – http://www.lloydstsb.com/

Halifax – http://www.halifax.co.uk

HSBC – http://www.hsbc.co.uk

CO-OP – http://www.co-operativebank.co.uk

Santander – http://www.santander.co.uk

Natwest – http://www.natwest.com

Royal Bank of Scotland – http://www.rbs.co.uk

Nationwide – http://www.nationwide.co.uk

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