Scamming, hacking and billions of dollars lost, the online world certainly is a scary place. With more and more individuals getting crafty with their approaches, we have to be more vigilant than ever to protect our sensitive information.
Phishing is one of the most common scams out there, and in this article, we are going to discuss some tips to help you spot these fraudulent emails. Interested? Then keep on reading.
Before we begin, let’s go over what precisely a phishing scam is.
Any type of deceptive message that pretends to be a trusted organization is known as a phishing scam. They mostly present themselves in email form but can also be sent via text or other messenger systems.
Their main goal is to steal your financial details or personal information that could allow them to access your accounts. While some of these emails can be easily identifiable, others are not.
In a 2018 report by IC3, there were over 26,379 victims of phishing in the US, which accounted for $48,241,748 in losses. On top of this, that isn’t even counting the business email compromises. It is undoubtedly one of the biggest concerns in the online world, and if anything, it keeps getting more prevalent.
So how exactly do we identify these email scams? Well, there are few tips to follow as listed below:
1. Phishing emails are full of spelling mistakes
One of the best ways to spot a phishing email from the real business is to check for spelling mistakes. Almost all reputable companies have software and editing staff that confirm their spelling of every single advertisement/message is correct. Hackers, on the other hand, might not.
If something seems poorly written, there is a very good chance that it is a phishing email trying to mimic the work of somebody else.
However, this isn’t always the case, and sometimes the errors may be so small, it can be difficult to notice them. It could even be as little as an abbreviation or punctuation error.
2. The email addresses and links look suspicious
Another tell-tale sign that the email you are reviewing is a scam is to look at the email address and included links. If the domain name doesn’t seem right or doesn’t match official emails, chances are it is fake!
Sometimes it can even be just one letter off, so make sure you do a thorough check. An example of a suspicious address would be @netflix.mail.account rather than @netflix.com or the official account name.
Attachments might also be included in the email, which isn’t usual for more reputable businesses. If it is to something unrelated or something suspicious, it is wise not to open it. Otherwise, your computer or phone device may be infected with malware or a virus. To learn more about how a phishing email works, check out this Reply All phishing study that the podcast conducted.
3. The text is panic-inducing
In most cases, the original scammer will try and make the text of the email panic-inducing, so that you feel like you have to react immediately. This is a common technique used by both scammers and hackers, as you feel as if you don’t act fast, something terrible will happen.
An example of this today would be the many COVID-19 scams that are circulating the internet. Since the topic is so sensitive, people fear that they must act as soon as possible.
For example, they may ask you to enter your personal details so that you can be informed of a recent outbreak. However, it is just a trick that you should watch out for. If you are looking for information on the Coronavirus, visit your government websites first before jumping to any conclusions.
4. They never use your name
One of the very first things that you should be able to identify is whether or not the email uses your name. More often than not, they will use some other form of salutation to get your attention, as they don’t have access to your details at this point.
A typical example of this would be something like “hello customer” or “dear valued client.” If they don’t use your full name, chances are it is most likely a phishing scam. However, it is important to remember that this might not always be the case. Especially if you use your name in your email address, for example, mark.jacobs74.
5. They want you to “confirm” information
One of the most common approaches that a phishing scam will use is to try and get you to confirm information.
It could be your bank account details, phone number, or even your security questions. If they have done a good job of looking like the real website, it is easy to get conned into.
However, it would be best if you always thought things through before clicking on the included links. If you have actually signed up for a particular company, they should already have your data in their system. This means they shouldn’t have any reason to confirm it.
If you still aren’t sure, then the best thing to do is leave it and call the company directly. They will be able to confirm whether or not it really was them that sent the email.
6. It seems too good to be true
Lastly, another typical way for phishing scammers to get your information is to try and make it seem like you have won something. For example, if the email is offering you something that you didn’t even sign up for, it is definitely fake.
It could be something like an all-expenses-paid trip, a free car, cash, or even a lottery prize. While we might wish it were true, it is better to stay away. When something seems too good to be true, it usually is!
And that is it! These were different ways to spot a phishing email. If you have identified something suspicious, make sure you delete it as soon as possible and report it to your email company. This way, you won’t receive them again, and they can put a stop to the culprit.
Let’s go over everything one final time!
- Check for spelling mistakes.
- Look for suspicious links and email addresses.
- Consider if the text seems “panic-inducing.”
- Look at how they address you.
- Check if they want to confirm information (even though they should already have it).
- If something seems too good to be true, it most certainly is!
By following these simple but smart steps, you can protect your data and avoid these nasty email scams. Do you have any other ways to identify phishing emails that we haven’t included? Let us know!
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.