How to recognize a phishing email

Phishing email

Phishing emails are getting significantly more sophisticated and difficult to spot.  When fraudsters first started using this method of phishing (this isn’t a typo, phishing is a play on the word “fishing” as they are fishing for your information), their emails were littered and cluttered with spelling errors and contradictions.

Unfortunately, people still fell afoul of the scammers – enough for them to obviously invest funds in improving their methods as the new sites and emails are significantly more accurate and detailed.  In today’s world, your true protection is through the use of tools that offer active protection against phishing – Avast, AVG, and Avira are all excellent options that you should explore.

Signs to watch out for

  • Clicking links is dangerous! – Some key rules you should always keep in mind to protect yourself on the Internet is if you receive an email or IM from someone you do not know – be very careful when clicking any links as they could be directing you to a phishing website.  Unfortunately, to some extent, you need to also take care when receiving similar communication from people you do know as they too could have been compromised.  In either case, you need to be very careful with the websites that you access and one of the best protections is not to click on the link, but rather navigate directly to the genuine websites URL.  To check what website the link is directing you to, simply hover your mouse over the link without clicking on it – the address will generally be displayed at the bottom of your screen.
  • Don’t be fooled by the look of the site! – The sad fact is that phishing websites can look, almost exactly the same as the genuine site and even have the same logo and company information.  In fact, all of the other pages on the site, could, in reality, go to the correct page, however, that one page that is asking for your information could be faked.  Any information you enter on this page, could go directly to the fraudsters and leave you vulnerable.
  • Check the email address closely! – Other key signs of a phishing email are the email address that you receive it from.  While the body of the email might look legitimate, the actual email address you have received it from is a @gmail.com or @yahoo.com address.  These free email accounts can easily be personalized and cost nothing to create.  To see what email address the message is coming from, check the message header.  Some other common signs are generic emails (Dear Customer) or emails that urge you to take immediate action or you risk losing access.  Your bank will generally not cut you off after one email and they would definitely address you by name!

How can I protect myself?

The Internet offers many rewards in terms of information and ease of access, but unfortunately, the flip side of the Internet is some of the dangers that exist there.  It is important to pay attention to the sites that you visit and links that you click on as it is very easy to end up in the wrong place and leave yourself open and vulnerable.  True automated protection, is really only available through the use of specially designed tools that protect against phishing and other malware attacks such as antivirus.

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