10 Tips for Spotting a Phishing Email
Unfortunately, phishing scams are being discovered more and more to unsuspecting people around the world. Although most of these scam messages are obviously fake, some are very convincing and can trick just about anyone. The question is, how can you tell the difference between a real message and a phishing message? Although there is no single answer, below are the 10 different techniques you can take advantage of to avoid being another victim of a phishing email scam.
- The Email Has the Wrong URL
One of the easiest phishing scams to identify is if it has the wrong embedded URL. There’s no doubt that you’ll get an email with a URL in the message from time to time. However, if the hyperlinked URL is different than the URL in the message, it’s most likely a scam.
- The URL Has a Misleading Domain Name
People behind phishing scams usually depend on victims not fully understanding how domain naming structure works. Here’s the secret, the last part of the domain name is where you can catch them. For example, peterjohnson.com is a perfectly safe domain name because the full name is on the right side, before the dot com. However, a malicious site would appear as peterjohnson.com.evildomain.com, since the dot-com shows up twice and because the full site name is on the left side of the dot com.
This is a common trick that con artists use and put the sender as Apple or Microsoft. Often enough, it comes up as something like Microsoft.maliciousdomain.com. So, do your best to avoid this trick and only accept emails from secure email accounts.
- The Message Has Poor Grammar
Usually, when a company sends out an email newsletter or press release, it will be peer-reviewed and properly checked for spelling and grammar. However, if it’s riddled with poor grammar and/or spelling mistakes, it most likely didn’t come from the company it’s pretending to be. These emails should be avoided and flagged as spam immediately.
- The Message Asks For Sensitive Information
No matter who an email is from, it should always be a red flag in your mind if they ask for sensitive information, such as your date of birth, social security number, or address. Additionally, a reputable company will never ask you for your password, answer to your security questions, or credit card number through an email.
- The Offer Seems Off
If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you receive an email from someone you don’t know with an unlikely promise or offer, the email is most likely a scam.
- It Doesn’t Apply To You
If you get an email, for example, that you won the lottery but never participated in it, it’s probably a phishing email. Any email that says you completed an action, but it doesn’t apply to you, you should ignore the email and send it to your spam folder. You’d be surprised how many people suffer from falling for these types of emails every year.
- They Ask For Money to Cover Unknown Expenses
Another easy way to identify a phishing scam is if they ask for money to cover unknown or random expenses, such as for fees, taxes, etc. No one should be asking you for money via email, and if they are, it’s probably a scam. Especially, if they ask for banking information, such as account numbers or your debit card number.
- The Message Threatens You
Although the hefty majority of phishing scams try to trick people into handing over personal information or cash, some scam artists try to intimidate people into believing their scam. If you receive an email with unrealistic threats, it’s most likely a phishing scam.
- The Message Comes From a Government Agency
Scam artists who try to intimidate their victims use a variety of personas, in most cases it’s a bank, but in others, it’s a government agency. Sometimes, phishing scams act like they’re law enforcement, the FBI, or the IRS, trying to scam information out of people.
If you get a random email from a government agency that you can tell doesn’t follow protocol, it’s safe to say it’s a phishing scam.
- Something Seems Wrong
Generally speaking, if an email simply looks wrong, it may be a phishing scam. Whether it be from a strange email account, improper grammar, or demanding personal information, any of these signs are the indications of scam artists trying to get you to hand over either money or sensitive information. The best thing you can do is sent it to your spam folder and tighten the security of your accounts.