Mouse Over Email Links to Help Prevent being Scammed

Published July 8, 2016

Unfortunately, there are more scams out there than anyone would like to imagine. Having been on the Internet for several years I think of myself as slightly tech savvy (yes, only slightly). I know how to spot the obvious scam. You know the ones I'm talking about, the one where the spelling is incorrect and the punctuation barely exists. I often get emails where I can tell it was sent from someone whose primary language is not English.

No Scam

In spite of that, some scammers have really done their homework because they're really good.  What they do is prey upon what you think you see. For example, someone close to me received an email explaining that the credit card for his online account had expired. In order to continue using the online service, he needed to click the box below to access his account and update the credit card information.

The email looked legitimate. There were no misspellings, punctuation was proper, grammar was correct and the graphics seemed appropriate. The email at first blush seemed on the up and up.

Double Checking

He started to insert the requested information, such as name, address and credit card number. When he got the credit card part he stopped because he didn't know which credit card he had used for that particular online service. He then logged into his account to confirm which credit card to update. By doing so he found that the credit card did not expire and he was not in danger of losing his services.

He then came to the conclusion that he was the target of an email scam. If it were not for the act of double-checking his credit card, he would have been scammed.  Just imagine the damage of providing such info to a scammer.

A Little Internet Trick

What he had not realized, however, was there is a simple way to see if the website the email is directing you to is a legitimate website. All you need to do is take your mouse and hold it over the link. Generally, your email program will display the URL of the page to which you are being directed.

Mouse Over

After learning this little trick he gave it a try. He held his mouse over the hypertext link only to find he was being directed to a bogus website in another country.

Shortened URL

Some scammers use, or other such sites to shorten links and hide the destination address.

Don't fall victim to the scammers. As I said earlier a lot of these emails look legitimate. Always, let me repeat, always hold the mouse over the link to see if it's legitimate. Or, if you're not quite sure, copy and paste the link into Google.  See what Google comes up with. Often times you'll read stories of what happened when other folks clicked on the link and followed the scammer's directions.

It's unfortunate that we have to go through such machinations, but it's better to spend the time on the front end preventing a scam rather than trying to recover from the havoc scammers can cause.

Felicia (aka Low Tech Grandma) is a wife, mother, grandmother, freelance writer and low-tech blogger.

Last Modified: 1 July 2023

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