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How to Recognize a Phishing Email

May 06, 2020


Email powers a significant amount of our communication—so it’s become a main target of scammers. One of the most common techniques used by online thieves is phishing, in which they send an email that looks identical to one that might be sent from a trusted source—and use that trust the user automatically has to solicit personal information, including passwords, phone numbers, account data and more. That information can then be used to directly hack into accounts—largely for financial gain—or to use one’s identity for a larger scheme.

Email phishing examples have many elements in common, and it’s important to recognize all of them in order to protect your digital privacy. Phishing emails are getting increasingly sophisticated so familiarizing yourself with common techniques is just the first step; staying vigilant and always looking for innovative ways to safeguard your online activity, is necessary to keep your security at the forefront.

Here are a few email phishing examples:

Sensitive information: An email that asks for credit card numbers, tax records or other sensitive information would not come from a valid source. While real organizations like banks or workplaces may request such information, they would never do it via email, which is a major red flag.

Spelling errors: Real emails from trusted companies go through a series of editing steps before being deployed, with marketing, legal and other experts chiming in and looking for any possible errors. So, if a message contains spelling or other glaring errors, there’s a chance it’s phishing.

Attachments: Email phishing examples often include attachments, which credible organizations wouldn’t send unsolicited. Phishing scam artists may use .exe or .zip files to embed malware in a user’s email.

Incompatible URLs: If an email redirects a user to a website, the URL should match what the message says it is. To check, hover the mouse over the link and ensure that the preview text that pops up matches the real organization’s site.

Domain emails: Credible organizations typically have the company name in all associated email addresses. If an email arrives purportedly from a bank, for instance, and has additional numbers or characters after the bank name in the sender email address, it’s likely a scam.

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