7 ways to identify spam

Updated at: Oct 01, 2019
By Gatefy

7 ways to identify spam

There's something funny about spam. Nobody in the whole world likes them, but everyone gets spam. Okay, cybercriminals like them, but they don't count. They aren't nice people. The fact is that spam has consolidated over time as a tool to commit scams and frauds.

I say “over time” because in the past spam was much more used for real offers. Today isn't like that anymore. Spam has become a vehicle for phishing scam and malware spread, which makes everyone who has an email box alert, especially if you’re part of an organization.

An anti-spam software or a more complete email protection solution, such as a Secure Email Gateway, becomes necessary in your day-to-day and in your company to avoid and block threats. Investing in employee training also helps a lot. Your team needs to learn to recognize and deal with different threats and attacks.

How to recognize spam

The first way to identify spam is the most obvious one. Spam by definition is an unwanted message. So if you got an unwanted email, we're probably talking about spam. But there are other ways to recognize it. Check it out.

1. Miraculous products and promises. The question is: who wouldn't want to lose many pounds in a short time? Or become stronger just by taking medicine or following a light training routine? Or get rich by investing almost no money? I would like too, but messages with such promises are usually simply spam.

2. Appealing and urgent subjects. If the subject of the email brings a super lucrative offer or a sense of urgency out of the ordinary, be skeptical. Messages with deadlines, such as a limited time to update your IRS info or only a few hours to get that 90% discount offer, are particularly suspicious. As we already said here in our blog, super lucrative offerings don’t exist. Sorry for saying that.

3. Suspicious sender. The sender's address is something that should always be checked, regardless of the case. Spam usually has a non-standard sender address, with combinations of numbers and letters.

4. Grammar and spelling errors. One of the main signs of spam is grammar and spelling errors in the message. It happens because the spammer, the creator of the spam, often doesn't know your language very well.

5. Strange URLs. Spam is usually stuffed with links. The problem here: if they're malicious URLs, they will redirect you to fake webpages aiming to steal sensitive data or download a weaponized file. In these cases, hover your cursor over the links and examine them. If in doubt, don’t click.

6. Strange attachments. Attachments are also common in spam messages, whether to supposedly present a new clothing catalog or to track a package. It’s forbidden to click on an attachment that you were not expecting. 

7. It's not spam. I love this last one. Trying to trick people, some spam messages come with an announcement that says something like: “This message isn’t spam. You’re receiving this email because you have registered on our website”. That’s a nice try… or not!