Avoid Scams: 5 Tips to Recognize Phishing Emails

Avoid Scams: 5 Tips to Recognize Phishing Emails

Cybercriminals send an estimated 3.4 billion emails every day that appear to come from trusted senders. In an ideal world, you’d trust every email you receive. Unfortunately, in the real world, scammers are constantly bombarding you with phishing emails to steal your money and personal information.

The wording is urgent and creates fear

You may be warned that something bad is about to happen (e.g., you’ll be charged, you’ll lose access to an important account, etc.) or that you’ll miss out on a great deal or prize if you don’t. Don’t react right away. Scammers hope to stop you from thinking twice about your actions by implying that you have a limited time to correct your mistake or claim your prize.

The message has poor or garbled content

Reputable companies never start an email with a generic or impersonal greeting such as “Hi”. Similarly, spelling mistakes and poor grammar should ring alarm bells. If an email is full of spelling and grammar errors, it’s clear that the sender hasn’t used a tool like Grammarly or Word’s spell checker. It’s highly unlikely that a reputable company wouldn’t proofread their official emails, so repeated or obvious errors should always indicate that something is wrong.

The sender’s address or domain name is suspicious

If the message purports to be from a large company (such as Paypal), the email address should match the company name (for example, @paypal.com). Reputable companies won’t use a service like Gmail (@gmail.com) to communicate with you.

Misspelling a domain name is cause for concern. Scammers may have created a copycat address that is slightly different from the real company name (for example, apple1.com) in hopes that you won’t look too closely.

Scammers usually target one of the following:

  • Your social security number
  • Your bank details
  • Your card numbers
  • Your contact information

If you’re not sure, don’t publish this information online. If a sender wants to send you money, be suspicious if they first ask for your bank account details.

The email contains an unknown attachment or link.

Do not open attachments with strange file names or extensions. Clicking on “.zip” unzips the file on your computer, while “.exe” runs a software program on your device.

These attachments can release computer viruses and malware, and suspicious links can lead you to fraudulent websites. Trustworthy companies are more likely to use platforms such as Dropbox when providing additional documents.

You should also be wary of vague and unexpected messages that pretend to be from well-known companies, government agencies, governments, or banks, as well as emails promising unbelievable deals such as free vacations or expensive products.

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