How To Spot Phishing Emails

Phishing emails are everywhere, from your personal account to your CEO’s inbox. Often, these emails can take on the appearance of a harmless email, but in reality, unsuspecting victims the world over have been taken advantage of by carefully crafted, fraudulent emails. Learn more about how to protect yourself from internet fraud by understanding the tell-tale signs of a phishing email.

  • The URLs included don’t add up. If the email you receive contains links, check to see that they match the domain of the sender or the site that they say they link to. If the URL structure is completely different, it’s probably a fraudulent email trying to obtain personal information or gain your trust. Additionally, keep an eye out for similar URL structures. The link may look similar to a domain that you already know and trust – for example: could be the website of a lawyer you trust, but the fraudulent party could utilize, hoping that you won’t notice the slight difference in URL structure. Make it a priority to look closely at any URLs emailed to you.
  • Grammar is lacking. When you receive an email with poor grammar or misspelled words, you can safely assume it’s an email phishing for your information. Before any large corporation sends out a mass email, several sets of eyes check it for grammatical errors, proper syntax, and any legalities that need to be addressed. If you get an email with more than one error, it’s probably not from the corporation it’s claiming to be from.
  • Personal information is requested. Any email that requests personal information such as bank account logins, credit card numbers, or social security numbers should be ignored. Legitimate companies have secure login systems in place that require a password and answers to specific security questions – they will never ask for your personal information via email.
  • There’s an offer that’s way too good to be true. If someone on the street approached you and told you that they had a check for you from a distant relative for a huge sum of money, would you believe them? The same scam happens on the internet. Any email you receive making extremely big promises is guaranteed to be a scam. On a similar note, if you receive an email telling you you’ve won a contest you’ve never entered or won something without having taken any action, you can assume that’s a scam as well.
  • Scare tactics are used. Some phishing scams take to instilling fear into user as an alternate to the “you’ve won!” route. If you receive messages that contain threats that are unrealistic from a government agency you’ve never heard of (for example, “The US Bank will seize your assets if you don’t reply within 24 hours”), someone is probably trying to scam you for information. Carefully read the email – if you’ve never heard of or dealt with the institution that is going to “come after you,” you know it’s a phishing scam.

If you receive any email that doesn’t read quite right to you, it’s probably a phishing scam. Trust your gut when it comes to funky emails. It’s usually in your best interest to report it as spam and avoid acting on the request.