How can one tell if the email message is real or fake?

The "From" line of email messages can easily be faked, and so you should never rely on just looking at the "From" line to determine if an email is real or not. There are many other clues to the authenticity of such email:

  • The email contains obvious grammatical or spelling errors ("Due to concerns, for")
  • The message opening very general (as above, "Dear valued Citibank Member:") incorrectly identifies you, or uses only your email account name ("Dear Kan13245")
  • The email asks you to "renew your records" or otherwise update your account information.
  • The message asks you to link to a web site which seems to be legitimate, but has extra information or characters at the end (
  • The web site prompts you for your userid and password, and then opens a page asking for credit card numbers, bank account numbers and so forth.

Any time you receive an email like this, exercise extreme caution, as the email is most likely a fake.

While not all of these clues may be in the email, it is always best to be very suspicious of any email which invites you to give important personal information, especially if you have not solicited any such request from the company.

Last modified on October 24, 2012