1. Check the Sender name, and from Address. A lot of times, the sender name will be correct, but with a different email address alongside it. If the email address is wrong for that particular person, it’s going to be a spam email.
2. If the email related in any way to money, finances etc, don’t click any links within the email. These are likely to be phishing scams, where they take you to a fake website to input your security information. If you hover your mouse over the links in question, you should get a pop up with the link’s URL, which will likely be a link totally different to the genuine website. If in any doubt, go directly to the website instead of clicking the link. Also note that banks, online retailers etc rarely send an email asking for users to login or check their account details.
3. This one is a little more difficult to spot, and should really be blocked by a good spam filter anyway. These are spoofed emails. Basically they will have the correct name, and correct email address. Sometimes the email will start by asking basic questions such as “Hi, are you at your desk?” and then move on to questions such as “Are you able to do a bank transfer to a new payee for me?” This should ring alarm bells, so always speak to the person and clarify anything first rather than trusting an email. These kinds of spam emails can be blocked by good spam filters, and applying SPF lookups to incoming emails.
4. Did the email go into the Junk mail folder? If so, it’s likely spam. Emails end up in that folder when they fail certain spam checks, such as the one above. DO NOT click on any links within these emails, as they are likely phishing links, or links to download malware onto your PC. In the worse case scenario, ransomware could be downloaded to your PC and encrypt important data, such as personal photos, documents etc. When part of a network, it can spread to all machines/servers etc very quickly.
5. Does the email address you directly, with your first or last name? If not, and it’s along the lines of “Hi, Valued Customer” or even just “Hi” it’s likely to be spam. Genuine emails usually want to be personal, and address you by your name.