When the Filter Misses Spam

When the Filter Misses Spam
Would you recognize this message as spam?
from PayPaI service-7****4@pplx.com
To ********@gmail.com
Date Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 1:02 PM
Subject Account Blocked

Dear Customer,

Protecting your account is our primary concern and we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

Click here in order to solve the issue

Be sure to check back with us often as we add exciting new services to meet your financial needs.

If you have questions or need assistance, our customer service team is here to help.
Thank you!

In quickly reading through my emails one day, I almost missed the spam signals in the above email. A few factors contributed to my being caught off guard. I had recently completed a Paypal transaction, I was busy and distracted, and this email slipped past my spam filter. Fortunately, my training helped me to stop myself before clicking on the enclosed link.

Do you see what’s wrong with the email?

Who’s it from? First of all, the email address is not a legitimate PayPal address. When you complete financial transactions online, make sure that you’re familiar with the business practices of the companies you deal with. I know from experience that PayPal would not send me an email from that particular email address. Instead I’d get an email from a “No Reply” address.

Read the content. It may seem like a small thing, but check the grammar and punctuation. This email’s content doesn’t sound like the typical emails I’ve received from PayPal. They also wouldn’t include a “click here” link in their message. There’s also a period missing at the end of a sentence.

Check the source. The link included in the email can easily be checked for verification without actually visiting it. Simply hover over the link, right click it, or copy and paste it into a word processing program to reveal the full address without clicking on it. Rather than doing any of that, of course, you could simply ignore it – which is what I did here.

Visit the source. If your financial institution or merchant sends you an important email, then visiting their site to check out any issues won’t be a problem. So go directly to the source and log into your account, rather than clicking on a link that may not be reputable.

Pass it on. Finally, some merchants encourage consumers to send them any emails that contain their business name but have been recognized as spam. When a merchant does ask that of you, simply forward the counterfeit email to their spam or fraud department. If you are unsure who to send it to, request the appropriate address from the customer service department.

In the end, rather than deleting spam that makes it past your filter, mark it as spam so that your filter will recognize it subsequently. The next time something slips through, don’t forget this checklist to avoid being scammed.

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