What is Spam?

Email is both an excellent communication tool and also a way that companies can inform you about their latest products and services. However, email is frequently used to deliver unwanted material which is at best, annoying and at worst, malicious – causing considerable harm to your computer and yourself.

Spam (or Junk) email

Always be vigilant when receiving or responding to emails. Make sure your spam filter is always switched on to minimise the risks. The vast majority of email sent every day is unsolicited junk mail.

Examples include:

  • Advertising, for example online pharmacies, pornography, dating, gambling.
  • Get rich quick and work from home schemes.
  • Hoax virus warnings.
  • Hoax charity appeals.
  • Chain emails which encourage you to forward them to multiple contacts (often to bring ‘good luck’).

How spammers obtain your email address

  • Using automated software to generate addresses.
  • Enticing people to enter their details on fraudulent websites. 
  • Hacking into legitimate websites to gather users’ details.
  • Buying email lists from other spammers. 
  • Inviting people to click through to fraudulent websites posing as spam email cancellation services.
  • From names/addresses in the cc line, or in the body of emails which have been forwarded and the previous particpants have not been deleted. AVOID forwarding on joke emails. You’ll loose
  • The very act of replying to a spam email confirms to spammers that your email address exists. 

How to spot spam

Spam emails may feature some of the following warning signs:

  • You don’t know the sender.
  • Contains misspellings (for example ‘p0rn’ with a zero) designed to fool spam filters.
  • Makes an offer that seems too good to be true. If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.
  • The subject line and contents do not match.
  • Contains an urgent offer end date (for example “Buy now and get 50% off”).
  • Contains a request to forward an email to multiple people, and may offer money for doing so.
  • Contains a virus warning.
  • Contains attachments, which could include .exe files.
  • The risks
  • It can contain viruses and spyware.
  • It can be a tool for online fraud, such as phishing.
  • Unwanted email can contain offensive images.
  • Manual filtering and deleting is very time-consuming.
  • It takes up space in your inbox.

Email Scams

Scams are generally delivered in the form of a spam email (but remember, not all spam emails contain scams). Scams are designed to trick you into disclosing information that will lead to defrauding you or stealing your identity. Be Smart, Stay Safe.

Examples of email scams include:

emails offering financial, physical or emotional benefits, which are in reality linked to a wide variety of frauds. These include emails posing as being from ‘trusted’ sources such as your bank, the Inland Revenue or anywhere else that you have an online account. They ask you to click on a link and then disclose personal information.