How to Spot a Scam Email

Requests for Login Details or Personal Details

Scammers are very keen to get hold of your personal details, especially login details for your internet banking or your Microsoft 365 login details so they can delete your data and ransom it back to you.

Generic Greetings

Scammers are often sending out thousands of these emails at a time so they don’t know or care to use your name. A real company would certainly do so.

Spelling and Grammatical Errors

These emails often originate in non-English speaking countries and scammers quite often use software to translate their scam emails into English. This leads to grammatical errors that English speakers will easily pick up on.

Bogus Email Addresses with Weird Domain Names

The domain name is the part of the email address following the @ symbol. Scam emails frequently come from domain names that are what we would consider non-standard. They have unusual characters and look strange.

Urgency, Threats or Coercive Language

The key for scammers is to convince the target person to act before thinking too much about what they’re doing. They will say things like ‘your license is about to expire’, or ‘we have footage of you doing something compromising’, or ‘this (very expensive) license has been automatically renewed, click here to cancel’. Sometimes they also tell you that you’ve already been scammed, and that your bank account or computer is compromised, but don’t worry, they can help if you move fast.

Unsolicited Attachments

You might receive an invoice you weren’t expecting, for example, which is actually software that will invade your computer.

Suspiciously Specific Details about your Situation

Occasionally a scammer might go to the effort of finding your details in social media to be more convincing, or they might pose as IRD and tell you about a tax refund you’re entitled to. The trick here is to understand that large companies and Govt departments don’t send sensitive or personal information via email. If you were due a tax refund the IRD would email you to say that there’s a letter available for you to read in MyIR.

Dodgy Links (hover over the link without clicking to check)

When you receive a link in an email, it is best practice to log into where you need to go independently from email. That is – do not click on the link in the email, but go to the website in question and log in there. If you really want to use an email link, hover your mouse over the link first without clicking, to see where the link is really going to take you. If you see a series of weird characters that don’t look to make any sense, do not click.