Christmas, and other major holidays, is the time when email spam increases as criminals try their best to extort money from shoppers in search of deals. It is definitely worth being careful with every email you receive, to scrutinize it accordingly.
Effects of Amazon Spam
Due to the bombardment of Amazon email spam, it’s easy to miss automated messages from the company as people become distrustful of anything from the company not being able to tell if it’s from a spammer or not:
- Could miss important messages such as information about your order
- Loved ones might miss eGift’s you send by email (this happens a lot to us and it’s very labour intensive to resolve the matter/get your money back from Amazon when these are never picked up by the person you send it to
How to tell a message is really from Amazon or Spam
Some of the ways you can do that are to ensure your email program or webmail doesn’t automatically download images. An image is used in messages to ping back to those who sent it to confirm its been opened. Once they confirm it has been opened they will likely send you more spam, or your email address will go on a wider circulation to other spammers.
I will check my webmail before downloading into my email program. That way I not only address the spam I have received but also delete any other rubbish.
Do not be tempted to click on any of the links inside the message if it looks suspicious. For example, if you get an email from what looks like PayPal about your account then go to the site directly and login through your browser to review any actions you need to take.
I am using an Amazon related email I have received this week to evaluate whether it’s spam or not:
You will note that this is a play on Amazon’s branded Prime Awards product, but the spammer has dropped an “e”.
Usually, just by looking at the low quality of the email received you should be able to tell that it’s spam, for example, bad English, terrible design. Amazon hires highly professional designers and marketers for its email marketing so just assess whether you think a manager there would sign off on such dodgy looking work. You can look up design quality and use of the English language without downloading images, which you shouldn’t do unless you are sure it’s not spam.
Here are a couple of basic steps to assess whether the email is spam.
Step One: Lookup the domain’s WhoIs record
There are a number of WhoIs services to lookup a domain such as whois.com.
Initially, I will look up a legitimate Amazon company domain name first. You can use this information to compare against the potential spam email domain.
WhoIs Record for Amazon.
Now, look up the above primawards domain’s WhoIs record (the domain I got from the email address it was sent from, so just use the portion in red firstname.lastname@example.org). You can see that the registrant has a Gmail address, Amazon would not use Google Mail in their communication and definitely not as a technical contact. The address registered in the domain is clearly not an Amazon office, look it up in Google Maps to clarify that. Spammers will often use a false address or even a Post Office Box, that could even be false.
WhoIs Record for primawards.
You will see that the spammer used Namecheap to register their domain. You can double check with the provider that Amazon normally uses (Mark Monitor) against what this spammer has used. Now you have the domain provider you may contact them to do something about it, read NameCheap’s excellent blog on this subject, the company is very good at following up with these type of complaints. Please ensure you contact them only about NameCheap related domains.
Step Two: Look up addresses given in the email
To make themselves look more legit spammers will often provide 1 or more physical addresses in their emails. Simply copy and paste them into Google Maps and you will find out they absolutely do not belong to an Amazon office. Will use the addresses in the spam I received:
616 Corporate Way Ste.2-9092, Valley Cottage, NY 10989 – this looks like a USAMail facility, a company that redirects mail. Definitely not an address that Amazon would use.
3901 SW 47th Ave #405, Davie, FL 33314 – I can’t tell what is at this address, a small business park but definitely not registered to Amazon.
Another common theme with Spammers
One of the things that stick out for me is the TLD (top-level domain) spammers are using. If anything has an .icu .bid .sport or others that are not .com .org .net then that will raise an alarm bell with me. In fact, I have blocked all .icu domains all of which go to my Junk box automatically. Look for your internet service provides FAQ’s on how to do this.
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