If you are like me, your inbox is flooded with emails from different companies trying to get your attention. But did you know that many of these emails are fake? You might be thinking “what’s the point of sending out spam emails anyways?” Unfortunately, despite the obvious drawback to these phishing attempts (you ignoring their email), the scam artists have been finding ways around this problem for a while now. In fact, in 2016 they made over $3.1 million from these traps alone!
While it is true that most phishing scams are easy to spot if you follow some basic tips, there are also some companies that use more advanced techniques which makes their fake emails more difficult to detect. An example of this is the ‘reply’ feature that allows you to get immediate help from a company representative directly within the email itself. To avoid these traps it is important to know what kind of clues to look for in order to spot one of these scams. Here are some examples:
When In Doubt, Don’t Open It
Cybercriminals are tricking users into giving them access to their private information. Phishing scam emails trick you by sending links or files that aren’t familiar.
If you receive a suspicious email – no matter who it appears to be from – don’t click on any links or download any files. Be especially wary of emails and texts that ask you for personal information such as passwords, account numbers, social security numbers, etc.
If you are not expecting an email from someone asking for verification or personal information, your first instinct should be to delete it. These emails are often labeled as “urgent,” “important” or labeled as an “official email,” but they are simply ploys to trick you into opening the email.
Sometimes these emails may even come from addresses that look like they are official, such as email@example.com instead of firstname.lastname@example.org. Never open emails if it is not obvious who has sent you the information.
Check The Sender’s Address
A common reason why emails are labeled as “phishing scams” is because of the sender’s address that they come from. If you receive an email with an unfamiliar sender’s address, don’t open it.
The sender’s address can often be easily faked, so make sure you do your research before you open an email if it comes from an address that looks suspicious.
When trying to avoid a phishing scam, make sure the sender’s addressee is someone you trust. To check quickly you can hover your cursor over the sender’s name which will show the email address.
A quick way to find out if it is legitimate or not is by looking at your sent items/email archive. If the email address matches, it is most likely legitimate.
Watch For Misspellings
Sloppiness is a common trait of phishing scam emails because scammers don’t want to give themselves away. One surefire way you can tell if an email is a phishing scam is by running a spelling and grammar check on it. If the email contains any spelling or grammar mistakes, there is a good chance it is not legitimate.
Unscrupulous people will often use tricks to get you to click on a link that looks like it is from Facebook or another trusted source, but actually directs you to a fake site designed to look exactly like the real thing. Watch out for the common misspellings of these websites in phishing attempts, such as “Fcebook” or “Goggle.”
One sure sign of a message is a phishing scam is misspellings. So, even if the email looks official and it appears to come from a legitimate source, but there are typos or grammatical errors it’s probably not legitimate. For example, “Our records show that your payment has not be recieved.”
Check For Fake Links
Phishing scams will often use an official-looking link to trick people into opening the email. Fake links may look similar to those of legitimate companies, but they can actually direct you to a fake website that looks official.
If you are confused about whether or not to click on a link in an email, hover your mouse over the link without clicking on it. If it does not take you to the website advertised in the text of the email, do not open it.
The same goes for attachments, which can actually give away the fact that the email is a scam if you don’t open them. If anything looks suspicious, do not open it .
Google’s Gmail service will highlight in red all links that are not secure which means they are very likely trying to trick you into clicking them when in fact they lead you to an insecure website.
Be very careful when clicking links, make sure the destination is the one you were intending to navigate to.
Cybercrime is one of the biggest problems facing our society today. It affects home computer users and companies, across all industries. The criminals are often after some type of financial gain, or if they are hacktivists it might be for a social cause. However they get in, at some point they will almost always try to trick you into giving them something, whether it’s your money, information or both. Stay vigilant and visit Bayshore Interactive’s social media platforms to stay up to date on security related news.