Estimated reading time: 4 minutes

In this guide, you will learn:

What is a Scam Email?

A scam email is a malicious email that aim to trick recipients into giving up their sensitive information, such as bank accounts and passwords. This is one of the ways scammers use to get easy money from you.

Wondering why you receive these emails? Cybercriminals may have obtained your email address from a data leak, subscription to fake websites, public sources like social media, or illegal purchase of user data.

How to spot a scam email

Here are some ways to recognize a malicious email:

  • It came from an infrequent sender.
  • It has an urgent call to action or an alarming tone.
  • It has unexpected attachments and suspicious links.
  • There are multiple spelling errors and bad grammar in the message.
  • The email address or domain name is misspelt or altered
  • Email greeting is not personalized or uses a generic format like "Dear madam or sir".

Most common types of scam emails

  • Sextortion or doxing
  • Business email imposters
  • Fake contest or raffle prizes
  • Account update and password reset requests
  • Fake charity membership from famous personalities
  • Too good to be true subscription promos and renewal discounts

What happens when you respond to a scam email

Clicking on a suspicious link may open a phishing website that pretends to be a legitimate online shop or bank to collect your login credentials and other information.

On the other hand, downloading an attachment can install malware on your device. Malware like ransomware can encrypt your files and hold them for ransom. Some can install malicious software that records device activities to get your data.

Once scammers have your information, they can use it to steal money directly from your bank accounts and credit cards. Or worse, take over your email and other connected accounts and cause more damage.

How to avoid becoming a scam victim

Educating oneself about the ins and outs of scam email is the most effective way for users to avoid being targeted by these attacks. Until then, follow these recommendations:

Practice good email hygiene

  • Never disclose sensitive or confidential information through email.
  • Think before you click. Avoid opening links and attachments from unknown senders.
  • Create a strong and unique email account password. Use Trend Micro Password Generator to help you generate better passwords for your accounts.

    TIP: Change your passwords regularly. Trend Micro recommends you update them at least every three months.

  • Set up Two-Factor Authentication for your online accounts.

Enhance your device security and privacy

What to do after realizing you've been scammed

  1. Change the password of your email and other online accounts.
  2. Contact your financial institutions including your bank and see how they can help you further.
  3. Report the scam to prevent more victims.
Visit the Cybersecurity Learning Center!


Discover how to protect yourself from scams, online fraud, and dive into essential topics to protect your digital identity, and care for your devices.

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Avoid Scam Emails with Trend Micro

Discover how Trend Micro provides comprehensive protection against fraud and scams. Whether you're already a user or considering it, we've got you covered.

  • If you're a Trend Micro user, optimize your settings to guard against online scams. Follow our guides for Windows, Android and iOS.
  • If you're not yet a Trend Micro user, install Trend Micro Maximum Security to stop malware, fraud, phishing, email hacking, and other targeted attacks on your PC and online accounts. Get the same protection for your mobile devices with Trend Micro Mobile Security for Android and iOS.
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