Pittsburgh’s IT Service and Support Specialists


Pittsburgh, Cranberry, Greensburg, Indiana
Uniontown and throughout Southwestern PA

1st Quarter 2011 - January Issue

Subscribe Today

Subscribe to Shiloh Sound e-Newsletter

Click the Envelope to subscribe to your FREE Quarterly e-Newsletter

Recognizing Email Scams

You may not fall for the "Request for Urgent Business Relationship" scheme often called the Nigerian Scam, but it is still out there and continues to separate unaware email recipients from their hard earned money. In that one, a wealthy foreigner needs help moving millions of dollars from his homeland and promises a hefty percentage in return for your assistance.

But did you know there are far more subtle and difficult to detect schemes?

Someday soon you may receive an email that appears to come from your bank, your PayPal or eBay account, or even UPS. It will have a subject related to a package they were unable to deliver or a problem with your account, etc. Regardless of who it appears to be from, all they need is a little personal information to clear the matter up.

The return email address may look legitimate and the company logos and colors will be counterfeited to the nth degree. Is there a way to tell if the whole thing is bogus?

Reviewing Message Headers

One thing you can do is take a look at the message headers associated with the email. Below are examples from Outlook and Outlook Express.


The Message Options dialog box appears. At the bottom, you'll find a scrollable listing of Internet Headers. You won't recognize everything in the list, but you can at least take a look and see what return address the email really is using.

An email that says it's from eBay in the header, for example, would show @ebay.com in the message headers, not something like 387Qp@altorus.rsys34.com.au (For the technically savvy, the message header also displays IP information which can be traced.)

Outlook Express

You can find message headers for Outlook Express in a similar manner. Find the email of concern and right click on the message. Then select Properties from the drop down menu.

When the properties dialog box appears, click the Details tab and then the Message Source button at the bottom. The message headers will be displayed.

Common Sense Practices

No legitimate business will ask you for sensitive personal information, like account information, passwords, and social security numbers via an email reply. When in doubt, contact the company via other means. Find their website and send in a query or give them a call.

Tracing the Email or IP Address

You can trace IP and email addresses at a variety of websites, with some services offered for free and others available by subscription. Websites to check out are www.DNSstuff.com and www.everify.com

 Finding Message Headers in Other Email Programs

There are many email programs in use these days, from Windows Mail to Thunderbird, and even Outlook and Outlook Express have different versions in use, depending on the age of your computer and software.
If these instructions don't work exactly for you, review your email's help system for "how to view message headers," then follow the instructions specific to your email program.


Return to Top