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Is This For Real?

I am often asked how I know if an email is “for real.” Is it really coming from the bank, email provider, or company it appears to represent? Your concern is understandable; such an email might threaten to terminate service, limit accessibility, or otherwise compromise your credentials unless you act immediately.

What to do?

The first thing I do is compare the sender’s name with the sender’s email address. This is often a big clue.

The “sender’s name” is the name the sender wants you to see when you get the mail. It might say something like “Chase Online Services.” Sounds official; I got such an email last week asking for my login in information.

By clicking on the sender’s name, however, I learned that the email address associated with that email was something like joeandmikey@yahoo.com. This is definitely not an official Chase Online email address. (A legitimate email from Chase Online might be from info@chaseonline.com; at least it would include the company’s real domain name.) I deleted the email, certain it was fraudulent.

While every email address is unique, the sender’s name can be anything the sender wants it to be. The real email address might give him/her away.

The next time you are unsure whether an email is legitimate, click (or tap) on the sender’s name. You should see the real email address. If you are still not sure — perhaps even the email address looks official — close the email and go to the real company’s website (don’t click a link in the email itself), or call the company to discuss the issue.

Don’t be fooled!