How to Recognize a Fake Email Address

by Contributor

Email is replacing physical letters, and online bill paying is becoming much more popular with consumers than sending a check or money order through the mail. However, with the increased online usage comes a higher possibility of becoming the victim of phishing or email scams, which can lead to identity theft. Sometimes it is difficult for people to recognize fake emails addresses and the emails that are attached. Here are several ways that should help you catch most fake emails that make their way into your inbox.

Look closely at the email address. If the alphanumeric string before the @ sign is gibberish, with a lot of letters and numbers intermixed, it can normally be considered a fake email address. The only time you would actually open an email with an email address of this type is if you know the sender.

Many crooks are taking advantage of free email services online. You can spot a fake email address easily when it starts with a known company name and finishes up with an @(add free email service provider here).com. This can also be true of lottery and banking scams, as they will try to trick you into believing they are having you contact a banking institution at a free email address.

Clues within the email message can help you recognize a fake email address. A message that is "urgent" or that needs "immediate attention," ones with spelling and grammatical errors, any email asking for personal information, like passwords or bank account numbers, and emails with impersonal greetings (e.g. "Dear valued customer").


  • check If you do not know the sender of an email, it is always best to simply delete the message.
  • check If you do not know the source of an attachment, link or file, it should be deleted as well.
  • check A message from a well established company you do business with will rarely have a link within the email message. It will ask you to log into your account, not ask you to click the link provided.
  • check To spot fake email addresses and email links, hover your mouse over link within the email. Oftentimes, the address shown in the address window of your browser will be different than the address written as the link. This is a sure sign of a fake email and a fake email address.


  • close Never click on links found within messages sent from a fake email address! They will normally take you to fake Web sites asking for personal information, or could take you to an area that can infect your computer with some sort of spyware.
  • close Never respond to a fake email address! This will indicate a valid email, which could lead to even more spamming.

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