How to Spot a Scam

by Nate Ryan

How to Spot a Scam

Even if you think you’re a scam spotting master, reviewing some of the scam recognition basics never hurts, especially as scams become more advanced and believable.  In this article, we will walk you through how to spot a scam with some examples of email, text, and social media scams—some of which might be easier to recognize than others.  

How to Spot an Email Scam

Easy to spot email scam:

Right away, this email comes off as strange, especially from a company like PayPal. With numerous grammatical errors, a missing opener, dense body copy, extra punctuation, inconsistent spacing, and a strangely formatted disclaimer on the bottom, this email is noticeably suspicious.  
 
In addition, the sense of urgency of a confusing and unproven issue followed by a quick and easy solution further indicate that this email is a scam.

Hard to Spot Email Scam

Example of a well written email attempting to scam a user.

Unlike the previous PayPal email, this example looks quite legitimate with clean spacing, an opener addressing the customer, and a proper logo header. Though there are some grammatical errors, they may not noticeable to the average reader and do not hinder the email’s message.  
 
In this instance, it might be harder to determine whether this email is legitimate or not, and you might be tempted to click on the button at the bottom of the email. 

When Unsure, Do Not Click.

A closer look at the sender information reveals that the email sent by “Account Support” is actually from a gmail.com account unrelated to PayPal. It may also be helpful to remember that, other than small businesses, legitimate company emails will come from a private, rather than a public, domain

How to Spot Text Scams

As robo calls continue to overwhelm the average person, more people have turned to texting as their primary means of communication. Unfortunately, scammers have begun flooding people’s text messages with various convincing scam notifications.  
 

visual of a text scam

As robo calls continue to overwhelm the average person, more people have turned to texting as their primary means of communication. Unfortunately, scammers have begun flooding people’s text messages with various convincing scam notifications.  
 

In a situation where you might be unsure whether a text notification is a scam or not, check your account on the organization’s official website to see whether a notification matching the information on the text message has been sent to you there as well.

How to Spot Social Media Scam

Easy to spot

Rayban social media scam

Commonly seen on multiple social media platforms, the RayBan “sale” link continues to dupe thousands of people, compromising their accounts and reposting the scam in the process.  
 
Always be wary of free giveaways on social media, even if it is posted by people you know. 

If an offer is too good to be true, then it is probably a scam. 

Hard to Spot Social Media Scam.

Scammers often time take over the accounts of people you know so that you are less likely to suspect a scam.   

Although following the instructions of this compromised account seems harmless, the link they send to your phone number is actually a real Instagram “Forgot Password” link. The screenshot you send them gives them all the information they need to take over your account and scam others.  

by Nate Ryan Nov 15, 2022