Spotting Spoof Emails

If you check your email account regularly, chances are high that you’ve received an email that didn’t appear to come from a creditable source. The email may have appeared to come from someone familiar like a friend, family member or work colleague – even a bank, store or business you recognize. But knowing the warning signs that something isn’t right could prevent computer hackers from making you a victim of email spoofing.

The team at Aronoff Rosen & Hunt was recently alerted to the threat of hackers entering the inboxes of some of our clients. In an effort to catch these emails, our IT team set up an Office 365 rule that will flag potential harmful spoof emails that enter our client inboxes.

What is a spoof email? Also known as phishing, this is a hacker scam to steal personal information, money, or both by sending out fake emails straight to your inbox using a forged sender address.

Hackers are gaining access to email accounts through normal internet use. They’re becoming more skilled in crafting emails that are designed to extort thousands and even millions of dollars from the finance departments of large and small companies. The “spoof emails” are passing through the spam folders, landing in your inbox and appearing to be the real thing – from reputable companies or known associates with links, graphics, photos, and personalized copy.

Catching an Email Scam
Do you know what to look for? Some of the red-flags to look for in a spoof email include:

  • Threats – Many times a spoof email will include a threat about an account possibly closing or another type alert with an urgent message that requires action from you. These types of messages are a trick from hackers to gain access to your personal information.
  • Links – Another way for hackers to gain access to your personal information is through links inside the email. Never click on the link inside of a suspicious email.
  • Spelling and Grammar – An easy way to spot a spoof email is by noticing errors in spelling and grammar. An email may appear to be from a creditable source from the graphics and layout, but a quick read of the email content may prove otherwise.

These tips are the best possible way to educate yourself and possibly help prevent a hacker from entering your inbox. If you receive an email that demonstrates these warning signs, the best course of action is to delete it or mark it as SPAM inside your email software.
Never provide your bank account information, financial or personally identifying data via email. When in doubt, contact the friend or company you think you received the email from to discuss the email with them.