I am getting a lot of notifications these days about parcels I missed, or need to pickup; or money transfers I need to verify; or drugs I need to buy to make me more ‘manly’. Most of this c**p goes to my junk email folder because it is correctly identified as such. However, some still get to my Inbox. I want to show you, in general terms, how to identify the messages that show up in your Inbox that could potentially cause problems for you by showing a specific example from my email.
The latest one I got came from Facebook. (It didn’t really, it just looked like it originated from there.) Here is the message:
I get legitimate messages all the time from my Facebook account. I want to know when something interesting happens with the people and pages I follow. So, I am not surprised when I see a message coming from that site. At first glance, it even looks like it originated from Facebook. However, you can see my mail program identified the message as possible spam by putting the [Bulk] notification in front of the subject. My first clue. My next clue is the return email address I highlighted in the graphic. It does not even look like a Facebook email address. But maybe they are using a different server for their support messages. I’m suspicious, but let’s investigate further, as the message was sent to the legitimate email account I use for notifications from this company. (I have blacked it out in the picture above, in case you were wondering.)
So, since it looks legit, I put my mouse pointer over the link indicating “You have 1 unread message.” Notice I said I put my mouse pointer over the link. I DID NOT CLICK THE LINK! That is important!! NEVER click links in email messages you get where you are not 110% certain of the legitimacy of the link. Here is why:
Had I clicked on the link, my default web browser would have opened the page that is highlighted in the bottom left corner of the image. Clearly, NOT Facebook! As I moved my mouse over the other links in the message, every one of them showed the exact same ‘criminal’ link. I have no idea what would happen should I visit that site; and I suggest you NOT enter that web site address into your browser, either. (You have been warned. I accept no liability for the consequences you might experience by going there; none whatsoever, in all perpetuity, ad nauseum, until the end of days, etc., etc. You get the idea. Should anyone reading this actually do that – You are on your own.) I now know for sure this message is some attempt to do bad things, and I merely click on the ‘Junk’ button in my email program to relegate it, and any future messages like it to the Junk e-mail folder automatically.
1. Always be on your guard when looking at messages in whatever email program you use. (Even if the message is not identified as a potential problem, is from a person you know, or from a company with which you do business. As another example, to the best of my knowledge, Microsoft,will never send you a personal email telling you about a virus on your computer and indicating you should click a link in the message to fix it.)
2. Do not click on any links in email messages, unless you are 110% certain of where they go. Even if you are that sure, it never hurts to open your preferred web browser, and copy and paste the link from the message into the browser.
3. Hover your mouse pointer over the links in email messages to reveal the actual web site. (Both text and images can have links behind them.) Your mail program should either show you a popup window with the link details, or reveal the link at the bottom of your mail program as in the second image above, or both.
4. Take the time to find out how your mail program identifies junk or spam email, and make liberal use of that feature to help keep you as safe as possible in your communications.
There are a myriad of email programs, and just as many ways to adjust settings in them, to go into any detail in a blog post like this. Should you want help with your specific situation, please contact me.