How to easily spot scam emails

Email filtering is a lot better now in Gmail, Hotmail and Yahoo! but occasionally phishing emails make it through the filters. By far and away the most common of these are the ones that are after your bank login details for nefarious means. They simply spam as many people with as many different banks as possible and wait until they get lucky, catching out the unwary. I expect to see a surge in HMRC scam emails as we approach the end of the tax year. Rest assured though, HMRC are still strictly 20th century and wont email you, even if you can log on to the government gateway.

On first glance they can often seem genuine, especially now that criminals go to the effort of spoofing the banks email address so it looks like the email is coming from a bona fide source. Unfortunately though you can’t rely on the FROM field when checking an email for veracity.

Here are 5 useful tips to avoid falling for a scam:

  1. Is the email addressed to you by name? Is it the name you use at the bank? 
  2. If it starts “dear valued customer”, “Dear bank customer” or some such, ignore it, it’s spam.
  3. Ignore the “FROM” field, it might have been tampered with.
  4. Check the destination of any links in the email by hovering your cursor over it. This will show the destination address. It should be the exact same address as your bank: eg not or
  5. If in doubt, don’t click anything but log in to your online banking as you normally would and send a message or use your telephone banking to seek clarification.
Here are three examples of the sort of scam email you can get. All three had the headers tampered with so they looked like they were sent from the bank:
example 1

example 2

example 3

You can see there are common issues with all three emails and after a while it’s very easy to spot a dodgy email. Stay vigilant people!