RECEIVED a near-incomprehensible message suggesting you check out some new online game or health fad? Find out if it’s genuine spam or just a message from your mum.
Does the message contain grammar and spelling errors?
A) Yes, as if it was written by someone who didn’t have English as a first language.
B) Yes, loads of them, as if the message was cobbled together by someone who’d been off their tits on rosé since lunch-time.
What is the tone of the message?
A) Deeply impersonal, as if the person writing it has never met you.
B) Deeply impersonal, as if the person writing it has a very strained relationship with you right now due to a dispute over their grandparenting techniques.
Does the message contain a suspicious attachment?
A) Yes, there’s a large file which is presumably riddled with viruses.
B) Yes, the sender has, for some reason, taken a photograph of their computer screen showing a meme about Countdown, and somehow put that in a ZIP file before sending it to you.
Is the email urging you to buy something?
A) Yes, it seems pretty keen that you buy some diet pills.
B) Yes, it seems pretty keen that you buy some diet pills, nagging you that you ate far too much over Christmas and you’re ‘getting a real tummy on you’.
Is the email asking for sensitive, personal information?
A) Yes, it’s asking for your National Insurance number.
B) Yes, it’s asking what date your wife’s birthday is again, even though it was approximately a month ago now.
Does it come from an unknown number?
A) Yes, the number seems as if it may be from overseas.
B) Yes, it’s an unknown UK number, as if the person trying to contact you keeps leaving their phone in shops or breaking it and – not understanding how SIM cards work – keeps getting new numbers.
Mostly As: This is a spam message trying to trick you into doing something against your will. Ignore and delete.
Mostly Bs: This is a message from your mother trying to suck you into whatever nonsense is on her mind today. You’d dearly like to ignore and delete it but you bloody can’t because she’s your mum.