Recently, we are seeing some more sophisticated scam e-mails, this is a good time to discuss e-mail safety.

First, if you’re not sure about an e-mail, contact Tech Lab at 414-208-4682, and we’ll take a look at it for you.

Now let’s talk about what’s safe and unsafe to do in an e-mail:

It’s safe to open an e-mail.  So if you are freaking out because you opened a scam e-mail, relax because you’re fine.

It may not be safe to download a file, reply, open or click on a link, or call a phone number, and it’s definitely not safe to do any of these things with a scam e-mail.  If you have done this in an e-mail that you’re unsure about, contact Tech Lab. 

Example Scam E-mails

Let’s take a look at some sample scam e-mails that we have seen more than usual lately:

1) The fake order

The formula for this e-mail is, “Here’s the receipt for the order you placed,” and it’ll look like a receipt.  Like any other receipt, it will have a way to dispute the order somehow in the e-mail.

Why this looks like a scam:

  • Check the e-mail address on an e-mail like this.  Usually the e-mail address is not what you’d expect when you’d place an order.
  • There are many typos and things like highlighting to draw your attention that you wouldn’t typically see on a legitimate order.
  • While some receipts do come with PDF attachments, most don’t.  Remember, attachments can contain viruses.

When to worry:

When the receipt looks legitimate and you didn’t order it.  For example, if you have an Amazon account and the e-mail looks like it came from Amazon (e.g., came from auto-confirm@amazon.com).  Check your financial statements and your account.  If it looks like there was activity, you’ll want to kick everyone out of your account, change the password, and consider higher security (like 2-factor authentication) for your account. Occasionally, when you open an e-mail like this, the last four digits of your credit card number will be inside.  If they are, check your accounts.

What to do if you think it might be legitimate.

  • Check your financial statements.  If you have paid for anything, that’s how you’ll know.  If something unexpected is showing up on your statements, cancel it through your financial institution and let them know it’s fraud.
  • If something is showing up that is unexpected, you’ll need to do some securing of your digital self, so give Tech Lab a call.

2) Fake e-mail problems

The formula for this e-mail can look a couple of different ways.  The most convincing one I ever saw was, you need to change your password, but the most common I have seen is, you need to verify your account.  I have also seen ones that say, you are running out of space in your e-mail account.

Why this looks like a scam:

  • Usually if you have to verify your e-mail address or change your password, it doesn’t come as an e-mail.  It comes before you open any e-mail.  So don’t trust any kind of e-mail like this.
  • My e-mail is provided by Tech Lab, so any e-mail I would get about my e-mail should likewise come from an e-mail address ending in techlabhq.com.  (Actually, Tech Lab will call you if there are any issues with your e-mail account.)
  • There are many typos and things like bolding that I wouldn’t normally see on a non-spam e-mail.

When to worry:

If your password or another password that you use is contained in the e-mail, first scan your computer, but then you’ll want to change the password on any account that uses that password.
If you can’t open any other e-mails or send e-mails, it’s more likely that there is an issue with your e-mail.  Call your e-mail or IT provider.

What to do if you think it might be legitimate:

  • You can log in on the portal page to your e-mail.  In my or our customers’ case, that is mail.techlabhq.com.  In the case of Gmail, this is mail.google.com, and in the case of Outlook or Microsoft, this is outlook.office.com.  If there is an issue with your e-mail, your provider will prompt you when you log in to do whatever.
  • You can also call your e-mail provider.  Find a phone number for your e-mail provider that is not in the e-mail, and call it.
  • If you’re not sure about your e-mail provider, you can call them, Tech Lab, or your IT provider, and we’ll be able to help you check this.

I clicked on a link/replied/downloaded the file/called the phone number, and now I think it was a scam… Now what???

Call Tech Lab at 414-208-4682.  Some actions are riskier than others.  Our technicians will help you determine the extent of the damage, and suggest some next steps.  They will be able to answer your questions about your situation.