Detect Email Scams on Mobile Devices

Email spam comes in a number of forms. Beyond annoying advertisements for products you don't want, there are phishing expeditions that seek to trick you into relaying personal information, and emails that try to entice you into clicking on a link or opening a file that loads a virus onto your device.

It use to be fairly easy to determine that an email was malicious. Misspelled words in the subject line and body of the email, poor wording or incorrect grammar in the email body, and other clues meant you could spot spam at a glance. Sometimes even the sender's address was a dead giveaway.

That was then. This is now. Malicious emails have become more sophisticated. It has become increasingly difficult to spot these emails by using the techniques just mentioned.

So how can you "up your game" to keep up with the bad guys? Quite simply, review the email source.

Look at the various email addresses and other information included in the email header. Look at the links contained in the email body and how they pair with the hyperlinked content. Look for whatever clues you can find that warn you to simply delete the suspect email.

Don't worry if this sounds difficult. It gets easier with practice.

Here are a couple of YouTube videos (here and here) that discuss how to view the message source using Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook. These videos should help if you are viewing your email from your Windows or Linux desktop or laptop.

I also found this article that discusses how to view the email source on Gmail or Yahoo! Mail. Once again, this procedure is for the desktop or laptop.

Problem is, more and more of us are viewing our email on mobile devices, and many of these email clients will not allow you to see the entire message source. Worse yet, mobile devices have become our weakest security link as more and more of us store sensitive information, conduct financial transactions, etc. on our phones and tablets. So what can you do to determine if an email is malicious?

If you use webmail, such as Gmail and Yahoo! Mail, you can select the option to "Request Desktop" view from your web browser (for instance Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox) while viewing your email list. You can then open the suspect email, and select "View Original" to see the email source. (Note: This is not the easiest approach, and you may have to look for a "Details" link or a pull-down button that displays more options in order to find "View Original" for selection.)

If you are using an Android mobile device, the K-9 email client is an easier approach. You can download it from the Google Play Store.

The K-9 email client is free and open source, and it allows you to see the email source just as you can by using Mozilla Thunderbird and Microsoft Outlook. This app is pretty advanced and requires a bit of work to set up, but it is well worth the effort -- particularly if you are determined to reduce the chances of identity theft and viruses from malicious email.

Okay, that's fine for Windows, Linux, and Android -- but what about Apple? Well, I am not an Apple user, so I had to do a little digging.

For you, I found this article to help you with your desktop. I also found this article for iCloud.

As for Apple iPhone and iPad, this article indicates you can use Microsoft Outlook, but it doesn't indicate whether the email source is viewable. Apparently, you'll have to do further research.