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Suspicious emails and how to identify them

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When you receive email messages from an email account that you do not recognize, always consider whether they are legitimate. Take a close look and consider whether you detect any warning signs if you have any doubts even if they seem plausible.

How to identify suspicious emails

Here are the signs that you may look for when you receive a suspicious email:

  1. Urgent call to action or threats – Beware of the emails that claim that you must click a link or an attachment immediately. Most of the time, they’ll claim that you have immediately act on it to avoid penalty. Creating a false sense of urgency is a common trick of phishing attacks and scams so you won’t think about it too much or consult with a trusted advisor who may warn you.

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  1. First time or infrequent senders – When you get an email from somebody you do not recognize, take a moment to examine it extra carefully before you respond or act on it.
  1. Spelling and bad grammar – Most common example of a suspicious email is usually disguised as from a professional company. If an email message has obvious spelling or grammatical errors, it might be a scam.

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  1. Generic greetings – If the email starts with a generic greeting such as “Dear sir,” “Dear madam,” or “Dear customer,” then it’s a warning sign that it might not really be your bank or shopping site. An organization that works with you should know your name and these days it’s easy to personalize an email.

  1. Mismatched email domains – If the email claims to be from a reputable company but the email was sent from a public email domain such as,, or, it’s probably a scam. Watch out for the misspellings of the legitimate domain name (e.g., “” or “”) as well.

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  1. Suspicious links or attachments – If you suspect that the email is a scam and all identifiers mentioned above are on the email, DO NOT open any links or attachments that you see as it might be an infected attachment that contains malware. Do not also trust email that is asking you to update your payment or personal information by clicking a link.


Identify suspicious email

Protect yourself from phishing

5 ways to detect a phishing email – with examples

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