A reader has a question about a scam warning she’s receiving in her inbox.
“Recently whenever your newsletter arrives in my email box there is a red band across the top saying that this may be a scam message and do I really want to read it. Why is that happening or do you have any idea why this happens. I’ve been a subscriber to your blog ever since the days of Worldstart. Is your site really safe for those of us who learn about computers?”
Spam filters and security programs do a fairly good job of flagging messages, but as they are automated programs, there’s also a lot of room for error. Depending on the filter, some of the criteria they might use for sorting out the spam from what you really want to read is where the messages are coming from, the subject lines, whether you’ve marked similar messages as spam, or if there’s any wording in the message that could be indicative of a scam.
One of the issues I come across sometimes is that because I’m writing about topics like scams and viruses when your spam filter scans the words in the message I’m sending, they’ll throw up a red flag. Sometimes I will repeat what scammers say in messages. Often times I have words like Windows or iPhone, or Amazon contained in the newsletter because I’m troubleshooting an issue with one or telling you about a new development or service. Scammers often use words like PC, Windows, Microsoft, iPhone, Apple, etc… in their messages. And since the spam filter is just an automatic program scanning for words, seeing those words can raise red flags.
Many times I’ve had issues where I couldn’t title an article with a name that showed what it was about because when I tested it, it went straight into the spam folder marked as a scam. So I had to remove the name of the operating system or take out a paragraph that exactly quoted what scammers said. Sometimes I’ve had to remove screenshots of what scammers sent in their messages because security software scanned it and saw the same images the scammers would send. Sometimes, it gets a little bit frustrating.
To stop this from happening, make sure you add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts or approved senders lists. If there’s an option to mark the newsletter as not a scam or not spam, please take it. The artificial intelligence behind the security system is capable of learning from your actions.
By the way, the warning that an email message might be spam or contain scammy language is different than the warning you’d get when you visit a website and are told that it’s not secure. The website warning can be because the site isn’t using https for something on the site. Once, for my site, it was because one logo for Twitter had an http and not an https in front of it. Or because you’re using a security program that white lists sites and that site hasn’t registered with the service that runs your program. If it’s a site you want or need to visit, make sure to let them know. It’s oftentimes something the site can fix by changing a file or contacting the security company.