Online Spam: Things to look out for

Online spamming is becoming a huge issue for internet users as most of them lead to scamming. According to SpamLaws.com 14.5 billion scam messages are sent out globally each day. We have put together some information to ensure you know what to look for and what to do to prevent this from happening.

Types of Online Spam:

  • Spam Emails
  • Spam Text Messages
  • HMRC phone calls
  • Social Media Messages or comments from fake profiles

Spam Emails

Spam emails, sometimes referred to as junk emails, are unwanted emails. Some of the worst ones include emails of people pretending to be big organisations. You may have seen these in the past, getting an email from Amazon saying your payment hasn’t gone through when you haven’t ordered anything? We have included a screenshot below and we are going to point out some indications of what to look for to prevent you from getting scammed.

The first thing to notice is the email address that the email is coming from. In this example, the email is supposedly from Microsoft however the email address reads gmarsh@noblesys.com if this was from Microsoft, it would be from an email like support@office365.co.uk.

Another thing to look out for is the grammar and spelling mistakes. In this case, the grammar throughout is completely wrong. The note at the bottom of the email reads ‘Note: Please take a few moment to update your account now’. This is a very forceful message along with it being grammatically incorrect. If this was Microsoft contacting you, they would speak in a professional manner.

Our final thing to look out for is the design of the email. In order for a company to look professional, they will use one specific font and size throughout. If you look at this spam email, there are a range of fonts used throughout which highlights the inconsistency in branding.

Once you have figured out that it is spam, simply report it to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service (SERS) at report@phishing.gov.uk.  Keep your eye out on each email that comes into your inbox as some spammers use intelligent software.

Spam Text Messages

Similar to emails, spam text messages are often used hiding under another company’s identity. A popular one is a scammer pretending to be Royal Mail informing you that you have a parcel at a local sorting office, and you need to click the link and enter your card details. It is important that you never click any links until you are sure it is the legitimate company.

The first thing to look out for is the phone number that this is coming from, if you click on the contact info it should inform you of this. If the phone number is a mobile number, this is most likely a scam. If it was the actual company, they would be using a landline number.

Once you realise this is spam, simply block the number and forward the text to the NCSC using the number 7726. This is a free number, and it allows them to investigate the scammer further.

HMRC Phone Calls

Ever had a phone call where an automated message answers claiming to be HMRC? This type of spam is becoming more frequent and more popular with people living in the UK. HMRC would only contact you through their official phone number, not a random mobile number therefore if this happens, ensure you report this using the button below.

Social Media messages or comments from fake profiles

Social Media is full of fake profiles, and you may get someone commenting asking if you want to collaborate or asking you to message you. Another popular spam incident is fake profiles pretending to be companies. For example, if you have entered a competition with one of your favourite clothing companies, the scammer will go through the entries and message people from an account that is identical telling people they have won and to click a link or asking for details. It is important that you check out this account before clicking links. Take a look at this example below.

The first thing to look out for is the profile’s handle and whether they have a verification tick. If it doesn’t look like their usual handle, click on the profile and see the posts, if they haven’t got the followers and posts they usually have it means they are a spammer.

Another thing to look out for is the way the message is set out. If you had won, the organisation would send you a personal message however, in this case, it is set out as a chain message.

Once you figure out it is a spammer, simply screenshot the message and report the account. Then, message the account that the spammer is imitating to inform them of everything that is going on so they are aware.

Below we have listed some organisations to get more information on online spamming and scammers.

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