"Is this email legit Petrina?" A question I get asked from time to time. A client will receive a message, usually from an SEO company, listing a ton of issues with their website and offering to fix them all at a very reasonable (undisclosed) price.
My client doesn't know if there is a problem with their website so they contact me and forward me the suspicious email for closer scrutiny.
So, what's the story here - is it spam?
Prepare to turn detective. The clues are there.
Clue 1. What's my name?
Do they address you by your name or a more impersonal Sir/Madam/Hello/Hi, etc.
Think about it – if a SEO company has taken the time and trouble to analyse your website, wouldn't they go to the effort of finding out your name?
Alarm bells should start vibrating quietly.
Clue 2. Unexpected mail
Is the mail unsolicited? Do you know the company? Are they based a long way away from your business? Sounding a bit spammy.
Clue 3. Panic stations
Often they are just "shooting you a quick email" because they love your website. No, really it looks lovely, so very impressive but they feel obligated to tell you that it's minutes away from imploding. The sender wants to panic you into immediate action. Calm reflection is the enemy of the scammer so don't act hastily.
Clue 4. Are they using a free email address?
Anyone who has a serious business won't be using free email accounts. Look out for Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo 'from' addresses and drag that message to trash.
Clue 5. Do they have a website?
You'd expect a business website address mentioned somewhere in the email. No sign? A bit unusual for a tech company don't you think?
Clue 6. Grammar/formatting
Look out for poorly constructed sentences, words spelt correctly, but not used in the right context, mismatched logos and the strange use of bold, underlining and italics.
This is not a comprehensive list, just some useful pointers to look out for. My advice would always be "If in doubt, send to trash and NEVER open any attachments."
For more information check out Which - How to spot an email scam