- Written by Mark Rinaudo Mark Rinaudo
Question: I receive lots of emails on a daily basis, and some emails look like they are from legitimate companies but seem too good to be true. How do I know they’re really from that company?
All companies today utilize email as part of their marketing campaign. Sometimes companies send emails out providing notices about policy changes regarding your account with them. Most companies will not send emails requesting information.
If you do receive an email requesting information or stating that you need to click a link in the email to take you to their website, then you’re probably dealing with a phishing scam email.
Phishing emails are generated by robots the same way spam is generated and spread throughout the internet. These emails are fishing for information.
Most of the time they lead you to a website that looks legitimate, but when you enter your login and password, it doesn’t seem to know who you are.
This malicious activity is a way for your account information to be gathered and sold for money, or worse: to use your information to log in to your real account and progress the phishing game to a whole new level. The end goal is always money.
If you receive an email and you’re not sure it’s really from the legitimate company, there are things to check to determine its legitimacy.
If you receive an email with a link requesting that you log in to your account to review some activity, then move your mouse so that the cursor hovers over the link in the email without clicking on it.
Most browsers and email clients will display the real web address of that link toward the bottom of the page. The link in the email hides the actual address until you hover your mouse over it, and then it will display the address at the bottom.
The email pictured here is from FedEx, and the link’s address shows that it’s from www.fedex.com. This is a good sign that the email is legitimate.
Some links in the email could be valid, however, while others are not. It’s always a good idea to investigate links this way before clicking on them to make sure they are taking you somewhere you want to go.
The other image is an example of an email claiming to be from Target. If you hover your mouse over the link that they are eager for you to click for your $50 reward card, you’ll see you’re not going to target.com but to vhjzwv.tk, which is in Tokyo.
This should send a red flag up in your mind, and you would be better off deleting this email.
Another telling sign is the email address of the sender of the email. If the address of the sender doesn’t end with @target.com or something containing target.com, then it’s probably not from Target. This email is from someone in .tk — not from Target.
Use the clues to determine if the email is real or a fake.
Mark Rinaudo has been working in IT in Shreveport, La., for more than 20 years. He is the owner and operator of Preferred Data Solutions. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to submit a question for this column.