When you arrive at the office, start up your computer, and that oh so familiar chime comes your way… you’ve got mail. As you start filtering through emails received since checking out the day before, you will most likely find several email marketing pitches and an occasional urgent email warning you to take action or face the consequences. It beckons you to “Click here to maintain access,” “Download a bill,” or “Send us your firstborn,” (that may be an exaggeration). Stop right there! If you suspect that you have received a fraudulent message, DO NOT click any link in the message, download files, or share any requested information. Instead, take these steps to help identify if the email is in fact spam and take action.

How can I be sure that it is a spam email?

  1. Misspelled Words & Odd Characters – Red flag number one: does the subject line or email content include misspelled words or odd characters? This is an easy way to recognize a spam email and put you on alert.
  2. Hit Reply to Identify a Spoofing Email – Forged sender email addresses and names can be hitting your inbox. A spoofing email is an email message that appears to be coming from a legitimate person or source, but in all actuality, it is spam. How do you identify a spoofing email? Hit reply. If you see the email address that you are sending to has changed, it is most likely a spoofed email.

I’ve identified a spam email, now what?

  1. Mark It as Spam – By marking an email as spam, this communicates with your email server and puts the sender on your spam list. It can also help your email client by identifying spam IP addresses. This is the source of the email. In the future, your email server can recognize and filter emails out of your inbox if they originate from the spamming IP address, domain, or email address.
  2. Reach Out to Your Email Support Team – If your email hosting company provides email support, reach out to your representative. They should be able to walk you through how to send the questionable email as an attachment. With that file, they have access to the necessary information to identify the sender’s origin and use those details to update the spam filters so you don’t receive these requests in the future. By forwarding the spam email, you will become the origin and it limits information related to the spammer’s origin. On the other hand, because you are forwarding a spam email, they could possibly miss it entirely if it gets redirected to their spam folder.
  3. Blacklist the Spammers – If you have access to your email spam settings, blacklist the spammer’s email address, domain, and IP address.

How can I combat spoofing emails?

Implement SPF, DKIM, and DMARC Records

Contact your email support specialist so they can work on adding extra layers of protection to prevent malicious emails from being sent out using your domain name. They will make changes to your DNS (Domain Name System) by adding these key records:

  • Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records help recipient mail servers identify unauthorized use of your domain in the form of forgeries (spoofing).
  • DomainKeys Identified Mail (DKIM) assigns a digital signature to mail sent from your domain, marking it as authorized mail.
  • Domain Message Authentication Reporting and Compliance (DMARC) records indicate to recipient mail servers that messages sent from that domain are employing DKIM and SPF sending policies. The recipient mail server then validates the message that you sent by using your DKIM and SPF policies.

Be Aware of Spoofing Best Practices

Be on the lookout for spoofing emails and know what to do if they come your way.

All Things Considered

With today’s technology, spam senders can mask their email addresses to replicate a sender’s name that you could know, which makes it much harder to identify as a spam email. As a rule of thumb, never click on a link or download a file to your computer unless you are absolutely certain it is legitimate.

Need help with email hosting or getting an email address at your domain, e.g. yourname@yourwebsiteaddress.com? Give us a call to get set up with Office 365, Microsoft Exchange, and Cloud Hosted Email. We will help you get started so you can access your email anytime, anywhere, and support you along the way.

About the Author

Nicole Matthews

Nicole is our digital marketing, sales, and content guru. When she's not making your website rank #1 on Google, you can find her photographing weddings, drinking an ice-cold IPA after a jog, or spending quality time with her family.

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