Two simple ways to detect an email scam

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You’ve heard of the worst ones, but do you really know how to spot an email that’s trying to get your personal details, or your hard-earned cash?

computer hacker hands on laptop

Some tell-tale signs are the same things that’d make you suspicious in real life. For example, offers of millions of dollars for doing nothing, or ‘notifications’ that you’ve won crazy prizes—and just have to pay the shipping costs. Others are less obvious. You might’ve even heard of scammers using the official logos of government organisations and service providers which, thanks to the internet, aren’t that hard to obtain. But here are a couple you might not have heard of. Add these to your radar:

1. The email address

Look at the domain the email has come from. That’s the bit after the @ sign. It’s relatively easy for scammers to register domains that look legitimate, save one or two details. For example, the domain might contain the name of a government authority – but it ends in .com.au rather than .gov.au. So check the email address carefully before you engage. 

2. The spelling, grammar, and punctuation

If your email has a lot of spelling and punctuation mistakes or maybe the sentence structure is a bit off, then it’s probably not from the person/organisation it says it’s from. The body of the message might read as though it’s written by someone whose first language isn’t English. Or the layout might be less than neat and polished. 
This might seem like a basic mistake on the part of the scammer. But they might actually be doing it on purpose. Some research and commentary suggests that scammers send out emails with typos on purpose so that only the most gullible, vulnerable and poorly educated people respond to it . This means when a human response is required to engage with the scam victim, it’s quicker and easier for the scammer to make a profit. 

What to do if you suspect an email is a scam

First off, if you can tell it’s a scam before you even open it – don’t open it. If you’re at home, just mark it as spam and delete it. If you’re at work, ask your IT department for guidance. 

What to do if you’ve been scammed

If you think you could have been involved in a financial or investment scam you should report it to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) right away. 

If you have sent money or information to a scammer, contact your bank immediately. They may be able to stop a money transfer or close your account if the scammer has your account details. You should also contact the business the scam is pretending to represent.

Also, ASIC MoneySmart share a useful list of steps to take if you’ve been scammed.

Not sure if it’s from us?

TelstraSuper uses a range of ways to communicate with members including email, text message, direct mail and outbound calling. If you’re unsure if a communication you’re receiving is genuine you can contact us on 1300 033 166 between 8.30am and 5.30pm Monday – Friday (Melbourne time).

If in doubt, don’t click – call us instead.