Phishing is one of the oldest tricks in the book when it comes to online scams, and it is still incredibly common as a tactic today. Generally, the aim of a phishing email is to secure information from someone via nefarious means, in order to scam them out of money, adopt their identity, or even in some extreme cases, to blackmail them. They’re less likely to happen when companies have an IT security services watching over their technology.
Clearly, it is important to avoid being a victim of phishing attacks. Let’s take a look at five clear signs that the email you’ve just opened might be a phishing email.
Although it is not impossible for a genuine sender to use bad spelling, in general it is unlikely that you will receive an official email from a company which is full of poor spelling and a series of grammar mistakes. If the email starts off with bad spelling and continues in that vein throughout, you know it is probably a phishing attempt.
Urgent Or Threatening Tone
Very often, phishing emails will be written in such a way as to try and convince you to take a particular action as soon as possible. In the slightly cliched early-internet version of this, it was in the form of the Nigerian prince demanding that you send money right away. Today, you might receive an email suggesting that you need to log in to your bank online in order to avoid losing money. If the tone is urgent or threatening, it is often a phishing email.
Any links that you receive in unsolicited emails should be regarded with suspicion, but especially so if those links seem to be a little strange in themselves. For instance, they might not actually be directing towards the website of the company the sender is claiming to be representing. It’s important that you hover over any link that is in an email, to check that it seems right.
Most spam emails will be sent out to many thousands of accounts, and they will not normally be personalised. If you receive emails with a generic greeting such as ‘Dear Customer’, you can be relatively certain that it’s probably not the genuine bank, or whatever other organization it is pretending to be. Discard any emails that address you this way – if it was really something important, they would know your name at the very least.
If you receive any attachments that you did not expect to receive, you should immediately be asking why, and should regard it with a healthy dose of suspicion. Attachments often contain viruses which can spread around your computer and a wider network, often bringing systems to their knees or even acting in order to give the attacks control of your system and therefore see your personal financial files. Be wary of any suspicious attachments, and do not open them.