Every day, 111 billion emails are sent, and it can be challenging to distinguish between legitimate and fraudulent communications. 94% of workers need help distinguishing between authentic and fake email addresses. What is a quick way to tell whether an email address is fake? This guide will provide you with the necessary knowledge about fake email and tools to spot fake email addresses By learning how to spot fake emails, you can take the necessary steps to ensure that you are communicating with legitimate individuals and avoid falling victim to cybercriminals.
What is a Fake Email?
A fake email, often referred to as a phishing email, is a fraudulent message designed to deceive recipients into revealing sensitive information, such as personal details, financial data, or login credentials. These deceptive emails can appear convincing, mimicking the branding and style of reputable organizations, but they typically serve malicious purposes.
The ultimate goal of a fake email is to trick individuals into taking actions that benefit cybercriminals, whether it’s clicking on malicious links, downloading harmful attachments, or providing confidential information. Being able to identify and protect yourself from fake emails is crucial in maintaining online security and privacy. In the following section, we’ll explore five key ways to detect and avoid falling victim to fake email addresses.
However, not all fake emails are bad! Fake emails can also be intentionally created without any malicious intent to access services and tools or visit websites without having to disclose your personal information, and there are several legitimate services on the internet as well as features on your device that can aid you in creating these.
Fake Email Address Vs Temporary Email Addresses
The primary difference between a fake email and a disposable email address lies in the intent of the owner. A fake email is created with the intent of defrauding unsuspecting victims through phishing scams, while a disposable email address is a temporary email address that is often used to sign up for services without using one’s true identity.
How Can a Temporary Email Address be Used?
Disposable emails allow users to extend free trial periods for a variety of online services and OTT platforms like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, HBO Max, etc. Usually online platforms offer a short trial period for a particular user of 10-15 days, and services offer a limited number of credits per user on a free plan. When this ends, they must pay for a subscription to access the same services or unlock more features.
Using a temporary or disposable mail address is often an easy tactic to bypass this issue and extend your trial period. While this is deceitful and not recommended, it is often harmless.
It is also important to note that disposable email accounts can often be forged to send phishing messages. These compromised accounts then become unwilling participants in aiding a criminal mastermind.
Reasons to Create Fake Email Addresses
Fake email addresses can help you protect your identity and privacy online from threat actors seeking opportunities to hack into your account and scam you. Other popular reasons making many individuals opt for fake mail accounts are as follows:
- A fake email address can prevent companies online from tracking your data. While this won’t completely stop it, it will surely diminish the chances of websites tracking your details using your email address.
- Using fake email addresses can also help you sign up for services without receiving hundreds of spam messages and advertisements in your main account – thereby helping you keep your primary inbox decluttered and organized
- You may not want to disclose your personal information on some sites in general, fake emails can come in handy during these times
How Do You Create Fake Email Addresses?
We would recommend not creating a fake email address unless it is an absolute necessity because of the above-mentioned reasons. There are several ways to create fake email, you can use Apple’s “Hide My Email” feature, Firefox Replay, and other websites that can help you generate valid fake email addresses quickly without going through many steps or even signing up.
1. Apple “Hide My Email” Feature
Apple users can simply use Apple’s “hide my email” feature on iCloud when they try signing up for any compatible tool or website. This tool is integrated into Apple’s features for creating aliases for emails that can be used for accessing services that support this feature.
When trying to sign up for a compatible service using an iCloud account, instead of entering your real email address, you can simply select the “Hide My Email” option to automatically generate an alias (Apple creates a unique, arbitrary email address for you) to sign up with.
2. Firefox Relay
Firefox Relay is a fake email address management extension of the Mozilla Firefox web browser which allows you to generate 5 fake email accounts for free, and even create unlimited addresses if you get a paid premium subscription.
To enable this, you need to simply download the Relay browser extension and activate it for your web browser. Following this, whenever you try to sign up for a service using your email, you will be able to spot the Relay icon which when selected will help you easily fill in the address destination box with a random email address generated for you by the extension.
3. Fake Email Generators
Temporary email-generating services are a quick and easy way to get a ton of fake addresses without having to go through multiple steps or sign up. There are several options to choose from that are readily available over the internet, some of which are:
- Temp Mail
To name a few! Most of these services are completely free of cost and will allow you to generate multiple addresses in seconds. Explore more here.
Disadvantages of Using a Fake Mail Address
Using temporary emails and services can have several drawbacks. Let’s see what some of these are:
- Websites may be able to detect and blocklist them
- If you maintain a number of these addresses, you may forget the credentials and passwords and get logged out of them
- If you are using a relay service to send emails anonymously, your data may be at risk and at the mercy of that third-party service
You must make sure that you are well aware of these cons before you rely on a fake address for your online operations to avoid future problems.
Consequences of Receiving Suspicious Emails
What if you received a suspicious email and the email address seems fake? Suspicious Messages may lead to the following scenarios:
- Manipulating receivers into disclosing credentials for credit cards, social security numbers, bank accounts, etc.
- Fake emails may often time lead to fake websites. These fraudulent websites further aid in launching a phishing attempt
- They may contain malicious attachments that download software that is infected
- They increase the population of spam messages in a user’s inbox
- Legitimate and real companies are often impersonated in fake emails. These reputable companies often lose their customer’s trust due to this.
On being defrauded your best course of action would be to get in touch with a law enforcement agency with your complaint.
How to Tell if an Email is Fake? : 5 Ways to Detect Fake Emails
You’d be surprised how many people fall prey to phishing scams due to fake emails. The only way to avoid becoming a victim is by being aware of the most common methods to trick you into giving up your personal information.
Here are five ways to detect a fake email address:
1. Examine the Email Address Domain
A common way to spot a fake email address is to examine its hosted email address domain. Many scammers use domains similar to popular sites like Google, Facebook, and Yahoo to fool you into thinking they’re legitimate.
If you receive an email from someone claiming to be David Jones at a fake Gmail address like [email protected], then you can be sure it’s not legit.
2. Examine the Sender’s Display Name
If you’re receiving an email from someone whose name doesn’t match the sender’s name field in your inbox, that’s a red flag. In Gmail, for example, if you hover over an email from a sender named John Smith and see that his display name is John Doe, it could indicate that this person is using a fake Gmail account.
3. Look for Misspelled Words and Urgent-Sounding Messages
One of the easiest ways to identify a fake email address is by checking for spelling errors and incorrect grammar. If an email contains multiple spelling mistakes or poor grammar, it’s likely from a bot rather than a real person.
Urgent emails are also often clear indicators of a fake message. Urgent-sounding messages instigate immediate action that puts the receiver under stress and clouds their judgment.
4. Hover Over Any Links and Attachments
If you receive an email from someone that contains links or attachments, hover over them with your cursor first before clicking on them. If there is anything unusual about them (such as an odd URL), don’t click on it! Instead, go directly to the source website by typing its URL into your browser (http://www
This way, you won’t accidentally download malicious software or viruses onto your computer when following links sent in emails from strangers!
5. Verify the Sender’s Information by Contacting Them Directly
If you’re skeptical about a sender’s authenticity, do a quick Google search or use a free email finder to see if their email address is associated with any other websites or products. If it is, then it’s likely legitimate.
However, in the case of anonymous accounts and upon finding no results associated with that email address, proceed with caution.
How a Fake Email Looks Like
Below is an example of how a fake email looks:
In this example we can see some clear indicators or warning signs of ingenuity:
- The email contains a bait or a lure
- There is a sense of urgency depicted
- The domain name is misspelled
- There are grammatical errors in the message’s content
All of these point toward the maliciousness of message’s content and sender, and therefore you must proceed with caution if you receive similar messages.
Stop Receiving Malicious Fake Mails Using PowerDMARC
Simply updating your anti-virus software or trying to recognize common warning signs is oftentimes not enough. Good news for you! You can prevent fake email addresses from impersonating your legitimate company domains with the following email security protocols.
SPF and DKIM: To Sign & Authenticate Mail Senders
A DNS record called SPF (Sender Policy Framework) specifies the mail servers permitted to transmit messages on your domain’s behalf. The servers and IP addresses permitted to utilize the domain name can be listed using this protocol.
Enabling the DKIM (or DomainKeys Identified Mail) protocol is a second security precaution. Using a set of private and public keys establishes the authentication of the email-sending domain. The keys enable message signing and source validation.
DMARC: For Domain Alignment and Reporting
SPF and/or DKIM can be combined with DMARC (Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance) to verify the alignment between the header and the sender domain and prevent direct-domain spoofing and phishing attacks. The DMARC record can be published on your DNS as a text record to activate the protocol.
The DMARC protocol also sends reports that list communications from your domain that have been validated and those that have not. This can help find potential threats, abuse, or configuration issues.
It’s easy to be tricked into thinking an email is coming from a legitimate source, and you want to avoid getting caught off guard by a hacker. This is why detecting fake mail has become increasingly important. Apart from ensuring authentic communication, you must also implement additional measures like enabling two-step verification and regularly updating your antivirus software to strengthen your defenses further.
Next time you receive an unexpected email from a friend or acquaintance, check for any of the tell-tale signs we discussed above before you fall prey to a phishing scam disguised as your buddy.
It’s probably not an actual message from them but rather a fake email designed to steal your identity.
- DMARC Black Friday: Fortify Your Emails This Holiday Season - November 23, 2023
- Google and Yahoo Updated Email Authentication Requirements for 2024 - November 15, 2023
- How to Find the Best DMARC Solution Provider for Your Business? - November 8, 2023