One of the first rules of avoiding scams online is to only respond to emails that you know and trust, but sometimes it can be unclear whether an email is legitimate or not. If someone emails you telling you that you have money waiting to come into your bank account, it’s probably not true. However, some business queries and other cold emails can be worth pursuing, so how do you know if the email address is legitimate and if you should respond?
In this guide, we’re looking at the best ways to research someone’s email address to see if it has a decent reputation or a spammy past that you should avoid.
Why people should be careful when finding suspicious emails
If you find an email that is in any way suspicious, it is probably best to avoid it. Don’t respond and give any personal details at all, as this can be linked to identity fraud and viruses that can be put onto your computer. Definitely avoid clicking on any links or downloading files from an email address you do not trust, or that you have reservations about. Phishing scams are still rife and you can get caught out if you aren’t careful. Make sure you do your research and always err on the side of caution.
What are the main cases when you need to research an email?
If an email comes from an unexpected email address then you might well need to research it. You might get an email about something that feels familiar, such as a reminder for a loan repayment or subscription to a service, but if it comes from an email address that you don’t recognize, or from a domain that doesn’t look legitimate. If you see a domain that has a typo in it or is spelled in an unusual way this can sometimes be a red flag.
You may also need to research an email if someone cold emails you, this might be legitimate if you run a business or are self-employed, but it can also be a scam, so it is good to check. According the identity theft statistics thieves use new email accounts to steal the information.
Other situations where it is worth doing some research include if you are contacting someone from an online dating account, or you are dealing with an online seller about buying or selling something. This can be an opportunity for people to scam you if you are not careful.
Best Ways To Research Any Email Address
What are the ways to research email addresses reliably and ensure you can learn from other peoples’ experiences of contact with a particular email address.
Search in Google
You should always run a quick Google search. Say you get an email claiming to be from a company where you have a membership or with whom you have had dealings.
If you search the email address and it comes up on their website, or shows the profile of a member of their staff on a legitimate website then it could be a good indicator of the legitimacy of the email address.
Use email address reverse lookup tool
An email address reverse lookup can tell you information about that email account, who it belongs to and whether it is linked to a spammy past. If you are able to use a reverse lookup tool to gain more information, you should.
Some reverse lookup tools can even show you details such as social media profiles and attached employers. A little bit of research can help you to establish whether or not the account is coming from someone who is real, and wants what they say they want.
Use a good spam filter
Some email accounts have better spam filters than others. You should use a provider or an email reader with a good spam filter. The whole point of a spam filter is to find emails that are suspicious and spammy and often stop them from getting to your email account at all by putting them into a spam folder. Google mail will warn you when you get an email it thinks is suspicious, but isn’t certain should go in spam.
These filters can give you a bit of peace of mind when it comes to responding to emails and knowing whether someone is being genuine with you.
You should always be careful and cautious online when it comes to your emails and not give out personal data without thinking very carefully about it. Unfortunately, there are always people out there trying to scam you and your email account can be a way for them to hook you in.
Fortunately, with a few tools such as email account reverse lookups, you can do your research with ease and greatly reduce the chance of getting caught out in the future.