A reader tipped me off to a suspicious email:

 “I received a sneaky junk email that I thought your Tech Tips readers would want to know about. It’s some garbage link about the three ingredients in an otherwise healthy salad that cause inflammation. To find out what they are, one must click the link provided. Yeah, right! WORSE: it has a link to “UNSUBSCRIBE” (in all caps). I never subscribed to it in the first place! I suspect it’s a trick to validate the email address as a legitimate address to a human who will interact with it. That increases the value of the address… and my inbox would be flooded with even more junk. I have a screen shot if you’re interested in it. Thanks for your tips!”

Thank you for being part of the Cyn’s Tech Tips family! It only goes to show that once you have the right tools for evaluating emails, it’s not too hard to spot a potential scam.

You’re right about that “unsubscribe” link. It probably either validates the email address or leads you to a malicious web page that could dump who knows what onto your device.

The first thing to ask yourself when you get an email like this is if it’s something you subscribed to? If it mentions some type of account, it is one that you actually have?

This is similar to the phishing scams where they tell you that some account that you don’t have has been automatically renewed for $200 and you must click a link to stop the renewal. The first instinct is to click that link and stop the renewal from happening. Just as one’s first instinct when something annoying turns up is to click that big, fat unsubscribe button.

The thing to remember is that scams like these are engineered by highly sophisticated marketing professionals. These aren’t individuals in dark rooms, these scams come from large organizations that employ hundreds, if not thousands, of people to conduct them. Look over every single message that comes into your inbox carefully.