How to identify SPAM and bad emails

Identifying SPAM emails:

First, we are not computer coding experts.  We know them, we've paid amazingly ridiculous amounts for their help, and we will probably have to continue to do so in the future to protect our assets.  If you are reading this, you are most likely in the same position as we are.

In no particular order:

  • You are NOT A_Winner!  It doesn't happen.  Lowes, Home Depot, WalMart, BankOfAmerica, Mrs. Emma Von Darnitol - dying in Uganda, in need of a beneficiary..
    Siberian Lottery, Kansas Hurricane Lottery..  $17,000,000 "US Dollars" found in a briefcase at the Heathrow Airport - with your name on it!
    I like that they think it's important to specify it is in "United States Dollars."  Nope, you are not a winner.  You WILL BE A LOSER if you open these emails.

  • Look closely at the return, reply address.  They are now carefully mistyping it.
    Example: is correct. is not correct.
    Lottery and L0ttery is different.  The letter versus the number.  They are crafty.

  • In most email systems (at least with Outlook, aka Hotmail), there is a setting that will tell the sender that you have viewed (clicked on) their email. FInd it and change it to Do Not Notify.
    That way, you can open it and see if it is someone you know.  If so, "White list them".  Which means you mark the message "Safe, never send to Junk".
    However, if you are not sure, a legitimate customer or vendor will nearly always include their name and phone number.  Pick up the phone and call. People like you, the calls are always welcome.

  • Another way is to NOT OPEN THE ATTACHMENT, but click REPLY.  That's the best.  Now you can see that that email from Purchasing@FordMotorCorp (example) is replying to or  (ru is Russia, we see tons of these).  Close it and junk it.  Then delete it again from your deleted file to be safe.
  • Viruses and worms can be imbedded in everything, including files with attachments like .exe, PDF, doc, docx, bmp, jpg, tiff, and on and on.  Trust NO-ONE that you don't know, and even then, unless you are expecting it, check the reply to address.  You can view the email, just don't click on any attachments, and don't send them a reply aka "Nice try a-hole."  That will tell them they've found a target.
  • Look for misspellings.  They are getting better and eventually will have it perfect, but for now, is not bankofamerica. 
  • Odds are you don't have many relationships with the extensions .fr or .mx, either.  Think before replying.

    Additional Protections:
  • Do what we do:  Every camera has a discrete piece of black tape over it. At work and at home.  ZOOM and other meetings only work when we remove that tape. Bad actors will send the most vile emails and you will immediately know they are full of 'it.  Of course, you should help others by marking it as Phising and double-delete it.  AKA go into your deleted file and zap it there as well.
  • USE A VPN like whenever you are online  It's cheap, it's fast, and it is secure.  No, we don't get any kick-back on this tip.
  • Go further by using when doing web research.  The cookies won't stick using  Go deeper:  Download the BRAVE browser.  It uses DuckDuckGo.  And do this with your VPN.
  • Purchase active antivirus protection with email scanning.  Remember, Kaspersky is a great software, but is from Russia, so... No.

    Wrapping it up:
    Our Outlook account got hacked and Microsoft doesn't offer any real help on recovering it.  Of course, we had expected better, having paid an annual premium for this account since 1998.  We've had to move everything to a new, similarly named account. Be careful.