How to Report Scam Emails

Steps to take to report the most common scam emails

Computer sitting on a table with email open on screen

Getty Images / Nitpiphon Na Chiangmai 

There are a huge variety of scams that can find their way into your email inbox. From the Craigslist email scam to the American Express email scam, you must keep safety top of mind. So, it's good to know how to report scam emails when you receive them. Not only to protect yourself, but also to protect others who might also be targets of the scam.

Each time you report phishing or another scam to an email provider, you're doing your part to fight against the attacker. Plus, reporting the email to public outlets helps others avoid a potentially detrimental situation.

The instructions in this article are for those with access to the desktop versions of Gmail, Outlook, and Yahoo! Mail.

How to Report Scam Emails in Gmail

If you use Gmail for sending and receiving emails, it's easy to report potential spam.

When you move an email to Spam, Google receives a copy of the email and may analyze it to help protect other Gmail users from email scams.

  1. When you find a potentially harmful email, select the square to the left of the email to add a checkmark in the box. This will open the toolbar at the top of your inbox.

    Selecting an email using Gmail

    If you have already opened the email, the toolbar should be visible above the open email. You can use that same toolbar for the remainder of these steps.

  2. Select the Report Spam (stop sign) icon to report the email as spam.

    Selecting an email using Gmail

    If you accidentally report an email as spam that isn't, simply select Undo in the pop-up box in the left-hand corner of the screen. This will undo the action and return the email to your inbox.

  3. To report an email as phishing, open the email and select the three dots next to the email.

    The menu in an open Gmail email.
  4. Select Report phishing.

    The open Gmail email menu.
  5. A confirmation message appears that explains what phishing is. Select Report Phishing Message to submit the message as Phishing.

    The Report Phishing dialog in Gmail.

How to Report Scam Emails in Outlook

Use Outlook instead of Gmail? It's just as simple to report a suspicious email.

  1. Select the circle on the left-hand side of your email.

  2. In the toolbar, select Junk.

  3. A menu will appear. Select whether to mark the email as Junk, Phishing or choose to Block.

    Reporting an email on Outlook

How to Report Scam Emails in Yahoo! Mail

If you use Yahoo! Mail as your email provider, you can report an email as spam in a couple steps. All you need to do is select the square on the left-hand side of the email you wish to report. Then select Spam (shield icon) in the toolbar to report the email and move it to your Spam folder.

Reporting an email in Yahoo! Mail

How to Report Scam Emails to the Federal Trade Commission

The Federal Trade Commission works hard to help email users avoid costly scams. That's why they accept spam email complaints, and you can report any message from any platform to the FTC.

  1. From your email, choose to forward the spam email.

  2. Insert the email address, spam@uce.gov, in the recipient line.

  3. Make sure you add in a message that states why you're reporting this particular email, then click the Send option.

How to Report Scam Emails to the Internet Crime Complaint Center

If you know, or even think, you've been the victim of an email scam, you should report the incident to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center.

  1. Visit the IC3 website here.

  2. Select File a Complaint. You'll also need to accept the terms and conditions.

    Using the FBI's IC3 website to report email fraud
  3. You'll then be asked to fill out a report that outlines your demographic information, any financial transaction information, the attacker's information, and other details.

    Using the IC3's complaint center to file a complaint
  4. When you're finished, select Submit Complaint.

How to Report Email Scams to a Spoofed Company

Sometimes, attackers may send fake messages that appear to be from another legitimate company (ex: Starbuck's, Best Buy, Walmart) with hopes that you'll fall for the scam. This is called spoofing, and when it happens, it's best to report the scam to the company that was victimized so they can investigate further.

  1. Visit the company's website and search for a website page dedicated to spam.

  2. If applicable, the company will list an email address for scams. Forward the email to the listed address with any other important details.

    Best Buy's contact page for reporting scams
  3. If no email address exists, feel free to call the company to report your email.

Reporting a suspicious email is simple. Yet, it's necessary to help yourself and others avoid costly scams that could result in serious harm to your identity and your wallet.