Email phishing is a tactic used by cybercriminals that involves using scam emails to extort money or information from people. The senders of these emails will often impersonate trusted individuals or organizations such as banks, the government, utility companies, the police or even close friends. Being able to detect the signs of phishing can prevent you from falling victim to these scammers. Below are just a few suspicious signs that you could be dealing with a scam email.
Security warning alerts
Many security software programs nowadays are able to scan emails for risky content and then send you alerts to prevent you opening or replying to them. While some security software can be a little overcautious, it is generally a good idea to not ignore these alerts. There are many software programs as well as cybersecurity companies like CMIT Solutions that can help to screen your emails if you don’t currently receive any alerts.
A change of writing tone
Is a familiar contact writing in an unfamiliar tone? Have they used an uncharacteristic greeting (such as ‘dear __’ when they often just use ‘hi’)? This could be a sign that someone is trying to impersonate them. If something seems off, consider comparing past emails to check for changes in tone.
Misspellings and errors
If an email is full of misspelling or errors, it’s possible that it could be a scam email. You should be particularly wary if someone uses the wrong name or reports information about their company that you know is false.
An unfamiliar sender address
Always check the sender address to make sure that it is the same address they have used in the past to get hold of you. When it comes to government emails or emails from other official bodies, you can usually look up official emails on their website – if the email address they’re using isn’t listed, this could be a sign that it’s from a scammer.
If someone you barely talk to is asking for money or trying to get you to click on a link, it’s likely their email address has been hacked. Always ring them in person using a trusted number to confirm that they made the request. Similarly, you should be wary of government emails or emails from banks trying to get you to divulge sensitive information – no official body is ever going to ask you to email them your password or PIN.
A sense of urgency
Many scammers will try to panic you into responding or clicking on a link/attachment by creating a sense of urgency. They may use sentences like ‘I need your help urgently’ or ‘this is an emergency’. Always think before you take action.
Dodgy links and attachments
Is there an odd looking hyperlink in their email? Have they included an attachment with a strange file name? These are both signs that you could be dealing with a scammer. Don’t click on a link or download an attachment until you’ve confirmed it’s safe.
How to check if it’s a scammer…
If you have a trusted phone number belonging to that recipient, try calling them to confirm that they sent the email. Never ring a phone number included in a potential scam email if you have never used that phone number before.