111 billion emails are sent every day and it's difficult to separate the real ones from the fake ones.
94% of employees can’t tell the difference between real and phishing emails.
How can you check if an email address is fake?
Well, it depends what you mean by fake. There are two kinds of “fake” emails.
- Invalid emails that can’t be reached.
- Emails controlled by spammers, spoofers, and pretenders.
This article will show you to identify both types of fake emails.
How to Check for Invalid Emails That Can’t Be Reached
There are several ways to identify invalid emails. There are free options and paid options; there are accurate options and inaccurate options; there are fast options and slow options.
The holy grail of email checking would be something that is free, accurate and fast. Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist (yet). You have to compromise on at least one of those benefits.
Keeping that in mind, let’s explore how to check if an email address is fake. We’ll start with finding invalid emails.
Option 1: Ping an email address to verify it.
Style: Free, Accurate, Slow
Let’s say you want to verify the email firstname.lastname@example.org
Open the command prompt and enter “nslookup –type=mx gmail.com”.
This command will bring up a list of MX records on the domain example.com. Here’s an example of that list (note: this example is searching for a Gmail address but you can search other domains).
It’s not unusual to have multiple MX records for a single domain. As you can see, the sample above has five.
Now you pick one of those servers and send a test message to it. Here’s how you do that.
Connect to the mail server. Enter the following formula “telnet + server + 25.” Here’s an example of what that formula looks like.
Then you say “HELO” to the other server.
After that, email them with a disposable/extra email address.
Email the address you want to test. In this case, it’s email@example.com
Watch the server response for the “recipient to” or “rcpt to” command. If it works, you’ll get an “OK”. Otherwise, you’ll get a 550 error message such as
“The email account that you tried to reach does not exist.”
“The email account that you tried to reach is disabled.”
That’s how you can check whether an email address is fake. The method is time-consuming, but it’s accurate and free. You can find more details here.
Option 2: Email From a Free Address
Style: Free, Inaccurate, Varying Speeds
Create a free email address with a free ISP like Yahoo or Google.
Email the address from your fake account. Send the message and wait a couple minutes (in rare cases it takes up to one day) to see if the message bounces. If it bounces, it’s a fake address.
Why do you occasionally have to wait one day? It depends on the server. Sometimes hard bounces come back instantly and other times they don’t show up until one day.
This strategy is popular because it’s free and requires virtually no technical knowledge. However, it’s less accurate than similar strategies.
Option 3: Use Email Verification Software
Style: Paid, Accurate, Fast
Email verification software is a proven way to eliminate fake emails. It will eliminate the following types of email (and more).
- Hard Bounces
- Syntax Errors
- MX Records
- Disposable Emails
- Domain Validation
If you’re looking to save money on email marketing, protect your domain reputation, and increase your email marketing ROI, then email verification software is for you. Likewise, if you just want an accurate way to eliminate fake emails, then email verification is the most precise way to do that.
This is because email verification is basically paying another company to do the first two things on this list (validate the MX Records and send a test email). However, it doesn’t stop there. Email verification includes even more steps than that, such as crosschecking your list with a master list of known spammers and checking for syntax errors.
Checking for Fake Spam Emails
As mentioned earlier, there are two types of fake email addresses. The one we haven’t discussed in detail yet is spam addresses.
Here are some ways you can determine whether a certain email is a fake spam email.
- Spam Folder- If an email address ends up in your spam folder, it might be spam.
- Email Address- If you see a business using a large string of numbers in front of the @sign or if they’re using a free ISP (i.e Gmail, Hotmail), it might be fake.
- Content- Emails with bad grammar, spelling, or syntax might be fake. If you’re not sure how to find grammar/syntax mistakes, use Grammarly.
- Personal Info- If a company or person asks you for your personal info, it’s likely that request is coming from a fake address.
- Greeting- If a company refers to you as “Valued Customer”, “Good Sir”, or something like that it might be fake. Companies typically use your real name or they don’t leave a greeting.
Of course, none of these things guarantee that an email is fake. Business use free email addresses; companies make typos. These things happen every day.
However, these things should raise a red flag, especially if you see more than one in a given correspondence.
Get Free Help Finding Fake Email Addresses Today
Beyond intuition, there isn’t necessarily an exact playbook for determining a spammer. One good place to start is this article called “How to Tell if an Email Is Fake, Spoofed, or Spam.”
This is a helpful resource. Nevertheless, I want to be a helpful resource to you as well. So, I’d like to extend a special offer to you if you’re dealing with fake emails that might be spam.
Send them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
My company Bounceless has verified millions and millions of emails. I know a thing or two about spotting spammers. I’ll personally take a look for you.
Also, you may be worried about invalid emails. If that’s the case, I have some good news for you.
Bounceless validates 100 emails for free. You don’t even need to put in a credit card.
The name’s Louk. Reach out to me if you’d like your fake emails identified.