How to Detect & Avoid Spam/Phishing Tricks Like “You’ve Got Mail”?

Scams & Viruses Solved issue

Question asked by:

Johannes E.

Issue:

I got a notification 'you've got mail' saying some stuff about winnings

Hello, I got a notification on my browser that I got mail and it says something about winning and iphone.
How possible is that it's fake and dangerous?

What will happen if I click on it?
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Have you ever received an email that says “You’ve Got Mail” and asks you to view a document and reply? If yes, you might have been a target of a spam or “phishing”1 trick.
A spam trick sends you fake or harmful emails that try to fool you into giving away your personal information or infecting your computer with viruses. This guide will explain how to detect spam tricks like “You’ve Got Mail” and protect yourself.

Whether you use Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, or any other email service provider, you might receive spam tricks from time to time. These emails can look very convincing and tempting. Still, they are designed to steal your information or harm your computer. 

We will also give you comprehensive tips on avoiding falling for them.

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How to Detect Spam Tricks

What Exactly is a “You’ve Got Mail” Scam Email?

Spam and phishing tricks like “You’ve Got Mail” are a type of phishing email. Phishing emails are fake messages that trick you into giving away your personal information, such as your email address and password. The scammers pretend to be an email service provider, like Gmail or Yahoo, and tell you you have a new message with an attachment. They want you to click on a button that says “View Documents & Reply.”

Scammers use spam tricks like “You’ve Got Mail” to get access to your email account and use it for their benefit. They can use your email address and password to read your emails and look for sensitive information, such as bank statements, other account passwords, or personal details. 

They can also send phishing emails to your contacts, pretending to be you, and try to trick them into giving away their information. They can also use your email address and password to log into other websites where you have accounts, primarily if you use the same password for different services.

Spam tricks can also infect your computer with viruses or malware2. Viruses or malware are harmful programs that can damage your computer, delete your files, spy on your activities, or take control of your system. Some phishing emails have attachments that contain viruses or malware. If you download and open these attachments, you can activate the viruses or malware and compromise your computer. 

Some phishing emails have links that lead to malicious websites that can infect your computer with viruses or malware. You can expose your computer to these threats if you click these links.

Malware or ransomware tricks like “You’ve Got Mail” can cause problems for you and your computer. They can risk your information and money, making your computer slow, unstable, or unusable.

Common ransomware that infects users via spam is Blackoutware, also malware like Veinmaster.

How is Spam Harmful To Computers?

Cybercriminals use malicious emails to infect computers with malware. These emails may contain harmful attachments of different file types (.exe, .js, .doc, .pdf, etc.). The malware can run and compromise your system when users download and open these attachments. 

Additionally, emails may have misleading links that direct users to fake websites that host malware (some of the trending ones now are Bittrex spam). Users may unknowingly download and install malicious software on their computers when they click these links. It is important to note that some files do not pose an immediate risk when opened.
For instance, malicious MS Office documents can only harm computers if users enable macros (enable editing or content) within those documents.

Example of Scams Email

Subject: Congratulations! You have won a free iPhone 12!
From: Apple Rewards [email protected] 
To You[email protected]

Hello,

You are one of the lucky winners of our Apple Rewards Program. You have been randomly selected to receive a free iPhone 12, the latest model of our flagship smartphone.

To claim your prize, all you have to do is click on the link below and enter your shipping details. Hurry, this offer expires in 24 hours!

Claim your free iPhone 12 here <<– link

Thank you for being a loyal Apple customer.


Sincerely
Apple Rewards Team

Email Scam Sample

Before opening any files or attachments or clicking on any links, confirm the authenticity of the communication. Avoid using key generators, cracking tools, or unauthorized software; download software and files only from official websites or trustworthy retailers. Avoid clicking on pop-ups or advertisements on unfamiliar websites and only use trustworthy sites.

Types of Scams/Malicious Emails

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Here are some common types of scams or malicious emails that you should be aware of and avoid:

Phishing Emails

These are emails that pretend to be from a legitimate service or company (such as Microsoft, DHL, Amazon, Netflix) and ask you to click on a link or enter your information. The link usually leads to a fake website resembling the real one, where cybercriminals can steal your password, credit card details, or other sensitive data. These emails often create a sense of urgency (such as wrong shipping address, expired password, etc.) to make you act quickly without thinking.

Another popular email scam that is circulating is a fake “Facebook copyright infringement” notification.

Phishing Emails

Emails with Malicious Attachments

These are emails that contain attachments that can infect your computer with malware. 

Malware is software that can harm your computer or steal your information. The attachments usually have names that suggest they are invoices, faxes, or voice messages. If you open the attachment, your computer will get infected, and cybercriminals can access your passwords, banking information, and other data. These emails are more complicated to detect by spam filters and antivirus programs. Still, they can cause more damage if successful.

Emails with Malicious Attachments

Sextortion Emails

These are emails that claim that cybercriminals have hacked your webcam and recorded you masturbating. They threaten to send the video to your contacts unless you pay a ransom (usually using Bitcoin or another cryptocurrency). However, these emails are false, and there is no video. They are just trying to scare you into paying them. You should ignore and delete these emails.

Sextortion Email

How to Spot a Scam or Malicious Email?

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To detect a malicious email, you should look for these clues: Malicious and scam emails are vulnerable to naive users who are not technically aware. The emails could be dangerous for them. If you are one of them, then we recommend considering these checks before opening spam emails:

  • Check the sender’s (“from”) email address: Hover your mouse over the “from” address and check if it’s legitimate. For example, if you received an email from Microsoft, check if the email address is @gmail.com and not something suspicious like @gmeel.com, @mailgee.com, or @account-noreply.com.
  • Check for generic greetings: If the greeting in the email is “Dear user,” “Dear @youremail.com,” or “Dear customer,” this should raise suspicion. Most commonly, companies call you by your name. 
  • Check the links in the email: Hover your mouse over the link presented; if the link that appears seems suspicious, do not click it. 
  • Do not unquestioningly trust email attachments: Most commonly, legitimate companies will ask you to log in to their website and view any documents there; if you received an email with an attachment, scanning it with an antivirus application is a good idea.

Last Piece of Advice

Now that you have, an understanding of fraud emails and how dangerous these could be for you. We recommend following the tips above and checking these fraud emails before directly opening them.
If you become a victim of these malware attacks, we are here to help and remove them. Feel free to ask us about your problem related to malware, ransomware, spam, or fake emails.
Our team is always here to help you out!

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  1. What is Phishing? — via phishing.org []
  2. In-depth Malware explanation — via Cisco.com []
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About the author
Iggy Shells
Iggy Shells - IT & PC repair expert

Iggy is the founder of WindowsGuided.com. He’s been involved in custom IT and security solutions for more than a decade.

Now he and his team are sharing their knowledge with the world by helping casual users solve a myriad of different computer issues, system errors, and virus/malware infections.