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How to Tell if an Email is a Scam or Genuine

How to tell if an e-mail is genuine or a phishing email.

Is the email genuine or phishing email?

Phishing emails are attempts by scammers to trick you into giving out your personal details. These phishing attacks can include attempts to steal your account credentials, financial information, passwords, credit card numbers, or bank account numbers. Falling victim to these scams can lead to identity theft, where attackers use your stolen information for fraudulent activities. This poses a significant risk to your online accounts, making it crucial to secure them. You might have received an email claiming to be from a bank or someone claiming to have an urgent unpaid invoice. Other scams may look as though they come from one of your social networks.

So, how do you avoid being scammed and protect your personal and financial information?

Here are some of the signs that an email might not be genuine and could be part of phishing scams:

Recognizing a phishing attack is crucial to avoid falling victim to these scams. Using spam filtering tools offered by the email service and/or internet service provider can help manage the flow of unwanted email into your inbox.

It is also important to report phishing emails to protect your accounts.

1. Are there disguised or incorrect links in the email?

Resting (but not clicking) your mouse pointer on the link should reveal the destination web address. For instance, on the screen the address might be www.emailsherlock.com but, when you rest your mouse on the link, it shows www.fakeurl.org/index/emailsherlock.

Be cautious before you click on a link in an email, especially if it seems suspicious or unexpected. Double check web addresses (URLs) in emails. A closer look at phishing emails often shows URLs that are slightly altered. For example, at a quick glance www.emailsherlck.org looks to be a genuine web address, but a closer look shows it’s not the correct address. The correct web address for Emailsherlock is www.emailsherlock.com

2. Is it an email from a company or person you don't recognize?

Don’t remember making a transaction with them or recognize anything about the sender? The email may not be genuine and could be part of phishing messages designed to steal personal information or gain unauthorized access to your accounts.

3. Did you order an item?

Phishing emails may tell you about an invoice that needs to be paid or to let you know an order has been dispatched, making it a clear phishing attempt. Phishing scams can also occur through fraudulent text messages. The email may contain an instruction like “order details and invoice in attached file”. If you open this file, it may put a virus on your computer. Think about using security software that scans emails for viruses: this can help to keep your computer and your personal details safe.

4. Sending Email Domain is not registered

The likelihood of a fraud or scam is very high when receiving an email from an email domain which is not registered. To safeguard against fraudulent attempts, emailsherlock performs an automatic check to ensure that a domain is not taken and that it is properly configured to send and receive emails.


If you accidentally click on a link in a phishing email, immediately disconnect from the internet and run a full system scan using your antivirus software. Change your passwords for any accounts that might be at risk and monitor your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. Report the incident to your email provider and relevant authorities.

Yes, phishing emails can be designed to look like they come from someone you know, including colleagues, friends, or family members. This technique is called "spear phishing." Always verify unexpected or suspicious emails by contacting the sender through another method, such as a phone call or a new email to their known address.

Phishing emails often use urgent language and common topics to entice recipients into taking action quickly. Examples include "Your account has been suspended," "Immediate action required," "You've won a prize," or "Invoice attached." These emails may also impersonate trusted organizations like banks, government agencies, or popular online services.

Clicking the "unsubscribe" link in a suspicious email can be risky, as it may confirm to the sender that your email address is active, potentially leading to more phishing attempts. Instead of clicking unsubscribe, mark the email as spam or report it to your email provider. If the email is from a legitimate source, visit the official website to manage your subscription preferences.

To enhance your email security settings, enable spam filters and phishing protections provided by your email service. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) for an additional layer of security. Regularly update your email password and avoid using the same password across multiple sites. Additionally, educate yourself about common phishing techniques to stay vigilant.