Don’t Be Fooled: That’s Not a Real Email

 In Your Home

We all know how important it is to keep yourself safe online, but scammers are becoming so sophisticated that it can be challenging to decipher what’s legitimate from what’s spam. The simple click of a link within an email could cause your computer to be attacked with a virus or your personal email account to be breached.

The good news is that there are some common strategies you can use to determine if an email is real before you click on any links or respond with any sensitive information.

Check the Email Address

The first thing I look at is the email address itself: does it have a weird combination of numbers and digits before and/or after the @ symbol? Sometimes the name of the sender may show up as someone I know, but the associated email is not theirs. Both cases indicate that the email is probably spam.

Look at the Content

The sender will often try to trick you with words. If the content is gibberish, it’s definitely spam. Otherwise, consider whether the email includes any of the following, and delete it if so:

  • Suspicious subject line. If the subject of the email doesn’t make sense or is full of symbols, the email is most likely fake.
  • Generic greeting. Most likely, a genuine email will address you using either your first or last name.
  • Extensive grammatical or spelling errors (unless of course it’s from someone you know who is just learning to read and write, such as a grandchild in first grade!)
  • Request for you to complete some action in a short amount of time. The spammer is trying to trick you by not giving you enough time to verify the action. If you know the sender, it’s worth an email, phone call, or text to their contact information you already had on hand to check if the email is real.
  • Request for personal information. Personal information should never be shared via email. The only safe way to share things like addresses, passwords, credit card numbers, and other personal information over the internet is in a secured, encrypted form.
    • If the scammer is asking for personal information, they are trying to do what is known as “phishing” – posing as a legitimate organization to try to get you to reveal personal information such as a bank account number or password.
    • If a trusted friend or family member really did ask you for personal information via email, let them know that email isn’t a safe forum for sharing, and that you will get the information to them in a secure manner, assuming there is a legitimate reason that trusted person needs your info.
  • Questionable links.
    • If a full link is shown (for example, and seems odd (similar idea to emails above), do NOT click on it.
    • If the link is embedded within text, for example, hover your mouse over the text to see what link is displayed. If it looks odd, do not click!


Trust Your Spam Filter

Sifting through your spam folder and opening random emails is never a good idea. In very rare cases, your email server may flag a legitimate email as spam. However, when this happens, the sender will probably mention to you that their email may show up in your spam folder. If you are signed up for an email newsletter but hadn’t opened any of the emails in a while, your spam filter may flag the newsletter as spam since you had been ignoring it.

If you do decide to look through your spam folder, always refer to the rules above before opening any email in your spam folder.


While these strategies aren’t 100% guaranteed to keep you safe from scammers, they will certainly help you avoid being taken advantage of. In the end, always trust your gut; if an email doesn’t seem quite right, delete it.

If you inadvertently delete an email that was real and important, the sender will follow-up with you again in another email, via phone, or in-person.


Check out empowerline’s resources for protecting your rights to learn about legal assistance if you think your rights have been violated or if you are simply preparing for your future.

Showing 3 comments
  • Avatar

    Do you mind if I quote a couple of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back to your website?

    My website is in the very same niche as yours and my users would
    truly benefit from some of the information you present here.
    Please let me know if this okay with you. Cheers!

  • Avatar

    This article gives clear idea in support of the new users
    of blogging, that really how to do blogging and site-building.

  • Avatar
    Sell ebooks online

    First off I would like to say awesome blog! I had a quick question that I’d like to ask
    if you don’t mind. I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your thoughts before writing.
    I’ve had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my thoughts out
    there. I truly do enjoy writing but it just seems
    like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually lost just trying to figure out how
    to begin. Any suggestions or tips? Cheers!

Leave a Comment

Related Posts

When Caregiving Calls

Before we knew about COVID-19, I was living the life of a grad student at the University of Florida, where I am pursuing an MBA. I volunteered with the Gator track team, was active with my church, and enjoyed Gainesville nightlife with my classmates. The weekend after Spring Break, my friends and I were relaxing […]

How-To: Get Your Groceries Delivered

Now more than ever, grocery delivery services have been in high demand due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. There are many different services to choose from, but here are a couple to get you started. These applications are available for both Androids and iPhones along with web access on your computer or other device. Many […]

A Conversation with Carolyn: A Look at Life After Downsizing

Carolyn Roper, an active member of the Atlanta Regional Advisory Committee on Aging, spent some time chatting with me about her personal experience with downsizing. Carolyn and her late husband of fifty-three years moved twelve times before finally settling down in a three-bedroom condominium in metro Atlanta. For fourteen years, they lived in this spacious […]

It’s Not Your Fault: Surviving the Devastation of Financial Exploitation

The poster in the hospital room was jarring. It asked: “Does your partner or caregiver take your money or Social Security, make you ask for money, or refuse to give you money?” After a few more questions, it said “If you answered yes …, you are experiencing abuse.” Why would a hospital post such a […]

Assistive Technology with Celia Williams

Celia Williams works for the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) in Aging and Independence Services as an information and referral counselor for empowerline, which includes ARC’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC). Empowerline offers services and resources to individuals with disabilities, older people, and their caregivers. When you call empowerline, one of our information and referral […]

Help three ways

Your needs come first. How can we help you? Call now, open a chat window, or leave a message for us to contact you later.

Looking for the latest guidance on the Covid-19 virus?

The CDC has created this video: “Covid019: What Older Adults Need to Know.”  You can also read CDC’s full list of pandemic-related recommendations.

If you are looking to connect with resources and services for older persons and individuals and disabilities in metro Atlanta, please contact us at or 404-463-3333.