How to Identify Email Spam

by Contributor

Identifying email spam may seem like an easy task. However, spammers are becoming quite good at copying the look and feel of popular Web sites. Spammers are creating emails and Web sites with common and official looking logos, which is enough to fool many who may be new to using the Internet. If you find your box is filling up with emails that are unsolicited, there are various ways to tell if they may be spam. Below are some steps to take when looking at your email to see if it has characteristics of a spam email.

Look at the email address to help you identify if it is spam or not. Many times a long string of alphanumeric characters before the @ sign will be a dead giveaway that the email is spam.

Look at what comes after the @ sign to determine if it is spam or not. If it is supposedly coming from a respected company or well-established Web site, it will certainly not have an email address like [name of business here]@[free email service provider here].com. Business and established Web sites would have their name dot com after the @ sign.

Look for a sense of urgency within the body of the email. If it is asking you to do something right away or within X hours, it is a good indication of spam mail.

Look for links within the body of the message. If it is a well respected, highly used business or Web site, a legitimate email would simply tell you to log into your account to fix something, not click on a link.

Look for grammatical and spelling errors within the email message. Oftentimes, spammers aren't too concerned with such thing and are hoping the readers won't notice.

Look for greetings that are generic. If it says something along the lines of "Dear Valued Customer" or "Dear [company name] Member," it is usually spam.

Look for an email asking for personal information. Banks, eBay, Paypal and other online services make it very clear that they will NEVER ask you for your personal information, especially over email.


  • check It is best to delete spam before even opening the email. If you do open the email, delete soon after figuring out it is spam.
  • check Report spam as often as you want! ISPs want to know about spam in order to stop it. Make sure to include the email and all headers when you report spam to the proper professionals.
  • check Report spam emails within 48 hours. Spammers normally don't use an address for much longer than that, as they know authorities will begin looking for it soon after.


  • close Do not reply to anyone who has sent you email spam. Even if you know that is what it is and you want to yell, scream and complain that they are filling up your mailbox with junk, they won't care. They have already gotten you, since by replying you have told them your email is a valid one.
  • close NEVER give out personal information over email or on a Web site! This is a perfect way for spammers to steal your identity and really cause you a lot of headaches.

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