What Is a ‘Spoofed’ Email?

What is a 'Spoofed' Email?

Have you ever received an email with a subject line that reads something like, “Hey, let’s catch up!”—only to click on the message and find it’s from a spam bot? If so, you’ve dealt with what’s known as a “spoofed” email. This is basically any communication that disguises the message’s sender, typically through altering the sender’s information and the subject line of the message. 

It can be quite annoying—you think you’ve received an important email from a friend or colleague, but instead it’s a Trojan horse. And because it can appear legitimate, a spoofed email may stand a good chance of avoiding the spam folder and landing in your inbox.

In most cases, a spoofed email shouldn’t cause you much concern, as it’s simply a less-than-ethical tactic of a marketer. Sometimes, however, it can be a malicious attempt to steal your personal information. Some phishing scammers use spoofed emails to pretend to be bank or government officials to steal passwords, login credentials, credit card numbers and other sensitive information. They may even use your account to send fraudulent emails to your contacts.

How To Best Protect Yourself

The bottom line is that spammers use spoofed email because it’s easy and it works. Most spoofed emails are sent via software programs that automatically change the sender and subject information to appear to be someone else, making it a somewhat sophisticated form of scamming.

For example, one common method involves email messages that appear to be from PayPal, asking you to verify account information. It has the PayPal logo and (almost) appears to be real. But when you look a little closer, you can see that something’s not quite right. The “from” email address may be off, or the URL the message is asking you to click is not from the PayPal.com domain. If you’re in a hurry or not paying attention, it can be easy to miss. 

The following are some tips on how to avoid these scams: 

  • Be skeptical: Look at all the information in the message before clicking on anything. If there are misspellings and typos in what’s supposed to be an official communication, it’s probably not legitimate. If you’re not 100 percent sure about it, call the company in question to verify. 
  • Keep anti-malware software up to date: Federal agencies recommend subscribing to a strong anti-malware service to help avoid email account hacking. Also, be sure your email account provider has protections in place to prevent security breaches. 
  • Never give out your passwords or login information: No legitimate organization will ask you to provide these via email. If they do, you’re likely dealing with a spoofed email message. 

What Should You Do If You Receive a Spoofed Email?

First, make sure to protect your own information. You’ll also want to mark the message as spam. You can report the sender to your email provider to block future communication. If your email account is being used to send spoofed emails, change your password immediately. However, the account could be compromised and you may need to close it to prevent further issues. 

If you need assistance identifying or dealing with spoofed emails, contact the team at IDMI.Net. The firm’s experienced team can help you protect your personal information from these types of scams.