Recognising which of the emails you receive is spam has become harder in recent years as spam emails now account for 58 per cent of all emails sent. With 270 billion emails sent every day world-wide, that’s a lot of spam and scams for you to avoid.
Spam celebrated its 24th birthday this month, the very first spam email was sent by US based immigration lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel to a Usenet group reaping a reported $100,000.
Clicking on the wrong link or opening a file from the wrong email recipient can compromise your computer, online accounts and identity. Malicious links are the most effective delivery method for scammers to steal your personal data, so it’s no wonder that they are going to the extraordinary effort of creating spam emails that appear to be from reputable companies and people.
The ATO, Australia Post, Telstra, Woolworths and energy providers are just some of the most common brands scammers use to try and fool you into clicking on a malicious link.
The scam email shown below is purporting to be from the ATO with good news about a $220 refund to be credited to your account once you click on the provided link urgently.
As highlighted, the email does not address the recipient by name, nor has it been sent from a legitimate @ato.gov.au sender. The letter is quite unexpected, contains poor grammar and asks you to click on a link that doesn’t lead to the ATO website when you hover over it.
Tips for avoiding scam email
- If you do not have an account with the organisation, don’t open the email.
- Hover over the sender to see the full details and check if the @ matches the name of the organisation. If not, don’t open the email.
- Be suspicious of any email from an unknown source that insists on ‘urgent action’. This is a ploy to make you click before you think.
- Hover over the link to see the full details and check if the domain name matches the organisation. If not, don’t open the email.
- Be extremely wary of the terms ‘free’, ‘complimentary’ ‘claim your prize’.
- Also watch out for emails that claim to have paid your invoice or attached a remittance advice. The documents attached to these most likely contain a virus.
- Finally, if in doubt, delete. If it is an organisation you have an account with, or a government department, they will find another way to contact you.