Red Flags for Dodgy Texts and Emails

by

I seem to be getting asked quite a lot about whether certain emails and messages are scams.
 
Recently I came across this fantastic video of Frank Abagnale.  An American Con Artist who was so good at his trade, when he was eventually caught, he worked with the FBI to help them catch other con artists.  They made a film of it with Leonardo DiCaprio called “Catch Me If You Can”
And whilst this video is a little America-specific, the underlying message of the red flags holds very true.
 
Recently at least here in the UK for myself and people I work with scams/cons seem to be on the increase via email and text messages
 
These do make it harder to trust our computers and phones, and if we’re not careful we can end up living in a world where we doubt and fear everything, so I’m going to mention a few other red flags I’ve noticed about scam messages – they’re not always all of these, but if you have more than two of them in any message, tread carefully.
 
  • Unsolicited
    You’re not expecting this message (even if it appears to be from a company you know)
  • Generic
    The message could just as easily apply to anyone else as it could to you
  • Finance
    They usually relate directly or indirectly to money – either you owe them, they owe you, lucky big win, HMRC, and so on
  • Urgency
    Sometimes off the back of the finance but usually they encourage you to act rapidly (before thinking)
  • Unusual Sender
    Either you don’t normally get messages from this sender or it’s different from what they usually send
  • Spelling or Grammar Mistakes
    I’m not sure the reason why this happens, though I’d hazard a guess that either the sender isn’t that smart (hence the life of crime!) or perhaps English is not their first language

Like I say they may not include all of these red flags, but if they include more than two, I’d beware. 

If it’s a phone call or text message, also try a Google search of the sender’s number as sometimes the dodgy ones get recognised and added to online directories.

If it’s a text or an email with a link, don’t click on the link but check it using the tips in my other post about scam links

Finally a quick thank you to Karen for asking the right question to inspire me to write this! x