- Parent Category: Training
- Created on Saturday, 04 June 2011 08:28
- Published Date
The recent resurgence of spam and phishing emails has left SA’s online community scared and confused. “Justifiably so,” says Chemory Fick, Group Marketing Manager with Vibrant Media and the Decision Makers database. “Many of these spammers are out to trick you, and get your money - and are getting smarter by the day.”
But, Fick says, there are a few key elements that you can look for that will quickly and easily enable you to identify spam and phishing mailers – and keep yourself and your assets safe.
“One of the key things you should be aware of,” says Fick, “is the sending profile.” The sending profile covers not only the name of the sender, but very importantly, the email address the notification comes from.
“It’s important to understand how very easy it is to make the sending name appear as something else; however the email address that the email is sent from is another thing all together.”
Fick suggests taking a careful look at the domain part of the email address, paying special attention to the company name. For example, an Absa email should come from @absa.co.za. If, for example, the email comes from an email distribution company, the domain will match the company name, and will be repeated in multiple spots on the email.
Dear fields are another key element. Well-maintained and researched databases, such as the Decision Makers Database, go to great lengths to ensure that all relevant fields, such as first name, last name, job title, etc. are well-populated and up to date. The same attention to detail is paid by banks and other large institutions to their data, and if an email comes to you from a legitimate concern, it will almost always be addressed personally to you – and you alone – and will not contain vague fields such as ‘Dear Customer.’
In addition, the email will contain no blank fields for name and email address, nor will there be a string of email addresses that it is sent to. “One of the most important things to look at is the links in the mailer,” stresses Fick.
She explains, “When you hold your mouse cursor over a link, there is a small hover box that appears.” This, she elaborates, shows you the address that the link is actually going to – and not what the emailer wants you to see.
Any legitimate emailer will go through to a legitimate domain, e.g. Vibrant Media/Decision Makers emailers always go through vibrantmedia.co.za. A word of caution here though: many spammers are naming the folders under their domain with names relevant to the site they’re trying to make you believe it is, so it’s very important to look at the first part of the URL up to the first forward slash i.e. http://www.vibrantmedia.co.za/ or http://www.absa.co.za/ or http://www.nedbank.co.za/
Design, typography, layout and copy are also huge key indicators of an email’s legitimacy. Email communications will always fall under the realm of the PR and marketing departments of any company, and as such attention will have been paid to ensuring that the email marketing or communication is instantly and easily recognisable and easy to associate with the brand. And, because no marketing person will ever waste a marketing opportunity, recognised logos will be used, as will tie-ins to existing campaigns across other media –e.g. Nedbank’s Ask Once campaign is included on their marketing mailers.
Another important feature is unsubscribe information. Legitimate companies will always err on the side of caution, and in the world of email that means opted-in databases, reliable contact information and accessible unsubscribe links. These will be easy to find, either at the top or the bottom of the mailer, and will more than likely have the same URL as the company sending the communication.
In addition, a contact person, with South African contact details, should always be listed on the marketing. If the contact person and numbers are overseas, or the email comes from a Yahoo or Gmail or other web-based account, chances are almost 100 percent that you are looking at a phishing scam.
Lastly – and most importantly: doubt means don’t. Fick concludes, “If there is even a slight element of the email that makes you think it is spam, in any way, then don’t follow links or reply to the email. “If you are legitimately concerned that there may be an action for you to take, then call your bank or financial institution, and they will be able to quickly verify if the email you have received is legitimate – and in our experience – any legitimate sender will be easily reachable, and more than happy to assist you.”
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