Scammers pretending to be actual companies have been around since scams became common. However, the internet has made it even easier for these dishonest individuals to impersonate legitimate businesses.
They can now fake emails and construct phishing websites that look exactly like actual companies. What’s worse, they can do all of this without revealing their identity and operate from their home’s safety.
It might sound like a good remote job, but the stakes are high – they’re after people’s hard-earned money, and that in itself is not morally pleasing.
This is why we can’t emphasize enough how important it is to be cautious about the emails and messages you receive. Some of them might not be from genuine companies at all, but rather from scammers hoping to deceive you.
We’ll help you learn how to tell apart genuine messages from brands and those sent by scammers. With the right knowledge, you can spot the warning signs in the content and avoid falling for their tricks.
Major red flags of a scammer contacting you
Certain clear red flags appear within the content of a message or email that scammers send. This is because they can’t perfectly replicate the professionalism and expertise of a real company.
For instance, if a company claims to be a financial institution but lacks the knowledge to provide accurate insights about finance, it’s a dead giveaway.
Even the seemingly authentic message or email they send can have grammatical errors. By scrutinizing the details, you can spot these discrepancies.
Here are the main signs that someone is trying to scam you by posing as a genuine company:
“Too Good to Be True” offers and promotions
Many people get drawn in by promises of rapid returns and guaranteed profits within a short time frame. This should immediately raise a big warning sign.
If a fake company or financial institution claims they can double your money quickly, it’s likely their money being doubled, not yours.
This often indicates a fraudulent scheme where they’ll take your money and disappear. The most recent FBI online crime report highlights investment scams as the leading cause of financial loss for individuals.
It’s not just investment scams we need to watch out for. When a scam seems unbelievably good, like a huge discount on a high-priced item that normally wouldn’t have such a markdown, it’s often too good to be true.
Imagine getting an email offering a product for less than 10% of its regular cost. Well, there’s about a 90% chance you won’t actually receive that product as promised. It’s a scam – a completely unrealistic way of doing business.
Then there are giveaways and claims that you’ve won a prize or been gifted a sudden windfall like a million dollars magically appearing in your bank account.
This is another telltale sign of a scam. A quick internet search about the supposed giveaway can reveal its authenticity.
As for those fake million-dollar deposit emails, you won’t be getting congratulatory calls from financial institutions; because in reality, it’s more likely the IRS will be in touch.
Sudden communication from unknown sources
Online scams usually originate from unknown sources, often claiming to be unknown individuals and coming from unknown companies. If everything about the sender is mysterious, it’s a strong indicator of a scam.
Legitimate emails will always come from trusted sources like your bank manager or insurance agent that you personally know and have kept in touch with for a long time.
Scammers tend to impersonate non-existent departments within these organizations. They often position themselves as responsible for giveaways and promotions, which is a major warning sign to watch out for.
This pattern isn’t limited to just giveaways or discount scams; it appears in other scenarios too. For example, fake job offers at reputable companies with high salaries and great benefits can also fall into this pattern.
While these communications might appear genuine at first, they consistently lead to one outcome: a request for money or personal information.
Always consider whether you’ve even participated in a job interview or entered a giveaway, or if you’ve made substantial deposits before getting caught in these traps.
High-pressure tactics & urgency in decision
If an email or message pushes you to make a quick decision within a tight timeframe as soon as you receive it, it’s likely a scam.
Scammers often create content that urges fast decisions by making people believe they won’t get another chance. However, in reality, it’s these scammers who would prefer if the opportunity never arose.
This pressure tactic is a scam indicator. Scammers want people to act hastily not only because of the time limit but also to prevent them from scrutinizing the message’s authenticity.
They want to avoid people realizing they’re dealing with a scam, as even a brief look at the design could reveal the truth.
Every moment is crucial to scammers, so their aim is for you to fall for the scam as fast as they can so that you cannot have time to consider if the email is genuinely from a legitimate company.
Poor communication skills and grammatical errors
If you get an email from a massive company like Apple and it messes up simple words like “don’t” and “dont,” it’s a scam.
Why? Because these corporations only hire experts for their communication. Mistakes in grammar and wording hardly ever happen in emails from legit companies – not just Apple, but almost all of them.
They use tools to fix errors and train their staff to respond without making grammar mistakes. If you get an email that reads like it’s written by someone with the writing skills of a grade-schooler or even worse, it’s not Apple you’re dealing with. It’s a copycat trying to steal your money – a scammer who clearly didn’t pay attention to the email they created.
While certain scammers can create well-crafted emails, this is only the case for the text itself. Once you start communicating with them, you might notice that your language skills are better than theirs.
This is the most obvious sign, a major flaw in the sender’s communication abilities. For instance, if someone supposedly from Google contacts you about issues with your account but then addresses you as “bro” when you reach out, it’s a clear indicator that something’s wrong. In such situations, it’s best to halt the communication immediately.
Asking for personal/financial information
Ever noticed companies emphasizing “We never ask for your password” at the bottom of their emails? That’s because reputable companies and banks don’t require your sensitive details – it’s simply not necessary, you have been through the application process already.
The only ones seeking such information are scammers pretending to be these entities. Legitimate companies won’t ask for it, as they don’t need it. Scammers, however, want your money and employ such tactics to do so.
When a promotion or offer asks for personal or financial information, it’s best to steer clear – it’s often a scam. If a giveaway demands upfront payment, even if labeled as a “tax” fee, it’s undoubtedly a scam.
As mentioned earlier, these scams consistently lead to requests for your personal and financial information, even if the topic and content seem unrelated.
Their ultimate goal is to extract your money or private data, which they can misuse for identity theft, fraudulent loans, and other harmful activities exploiting your identity.
At times, they might even attempt to extort money from you by pretending to know sensitive details about you, the information they actually obtained through their phishing emails or texts.
Regardless, whenever there’s a demand for something in exchange for receiving something else, it’s often a sign of a scam.
How to verify the legitimacy of messages
We’ve shared the warning signs to watch out for, but there’s more to these online scams than meets the eye. While not all messages are scams – it’s essential to acknowledge this fact – and it’s important not to be scared of it just because of fraud.
Sometimes, you might genuinely win a giveaway without it being a scam. To help you differentiate, here are methods to confirm if a certain message originates from a legitimate company rather than scammers.
Check if the sender actually comes from the company
When you receive communication via email, text, or any other means, it’s crucial to verify the sender – whether it’s a company, organization, or government body.
Even well-known companies can be imitated by scammers, so it’s necessary to confirm if these messages are truly from a legitimate source and not from an individual scammer.
How can you do this? It’s simple. For emails, legitimate companies will use their domain name in the email address, not a generic Yahoo or Gmail mailbox. For instance, an email from Apple should end with @apple.com, not @gmail.com – an obvious scam sign.
For text messages or calls, you can check if it’s a scam by verifying that the phone number aligns with the company’s contact list. You can also inquire about the person who contacted you, search for their details on the company’s official website, or contact the site’s support to confirm their existence.
Reach out to the company to verify
If you suspect identity fraud, reaching out to the company’s online support to inquire if they indeed sent the email can be a reliable way to confirm legitimacy. The best way to verify authenticity is by directly asking the legitimate company themselves.
Moreover, a common approach to confirming the legitimacy of companies reaching out to you via email or messages is to assess whether they’re actually running the events or promotions mentioned.
The company itself is the most knowledgeable about its own events and promotions. If they indeed conducted a giveaway, they’ll have a record of winners in their data – a primary method to confirm the legitimacy of someone claiming to represent the company who contacts you.
Typically, companies provide contact options or online support. Reach out, explain your situation, and await their response. Meanwhile, refrain from interacting with the potentially suspicious email or message until you receive a definitive answer of its legitimacy.
It’s logically impossible to win a giveaway if they’re not organizing one, correct? Similarly, you can’t be offered a job by a company undergoing layoffs, especially if you haven’t participated in any interviews.
While they might assert that you were scouted, is that claim truly reliable? Scouted perhaps for being potentially scammed?
Lastly, always rely on your instincts. If something feels off, it usually is. Don’t get lured into these scams, as these con artists exploit people’s desires, offering something big in exchange for something small. Yet, these seemingly minor actions often lead to major harm. That’s why it’s best to steer clear of them.
Understanding these online scams is a powerful tool, but protecting yourself from potential encounters with them acts as a shield. We’ve also created a helpful guide on how to strengthen your online safety by safeguarding yourself from these scams.