Recently, we have had questions from several of our clients asking about phishing email scams, and more importantly, how to recognize and avoid them.
“Phishing emails” are a form of cyber attack, in which false emails are sent to mimic reputable entities like banks, credit card companies, or contacts in your contact list. These emails can be very convincing, tricking the receiver into providing sensitive information or allowing access to their network, where more damage can be done.
As these phishing email scams become more and more prevalent, we thought it would be helpful to provide some tips on how to recognize and avoid them.
5 signs that an email is a scam:
- Suspicious Email Address.
Phishing emails often look like they come from a reputable source, but if you look closely, the email address isn’t what it should be. Although the body of the email may have your bank’s logo, color scheme, and format, the domain of the email address won’t be “@bankofamerica.com” or a legitimate business domain.
- Generic Greeting.
Phishing emails typically use a generic greeting, like “Dear valued customer” or “Dear account holder”. A legitimate business email would be more likely to use your name.
- Request for Sensitive Information.
A legitimate company would never ask you to enter or “confirm” any sensitive information, such as passwords, account information, credit card information, credit scores, etc.
- Bad Grammar and/or Spelling.
Legitimate companies proof-read their emails—if you receive an email that is littered with typos or grammatical errors, it’s likely a scam.
- Unsolicited Attachments.
Typically, legitimate businesses don’t send attachments, rather they will direct you to their website to download documents or information.
5 ways to protect yourself:
- Protect your computer with firewall, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software, and keep it up to date.
- NEVER provide sensitive information via email.
- Do not reply to any email that seems suspicious—if you aren’t sure if an email is legitimate, you can always call your contact at the institution in question, or open a new email and send it to your contact. It’s better to be safe than sorry!
- Do not open any attachments that you’re not expecting. Again, you can always call or email your contact separately to ask if they sent you a legitimate attachment.
- Do not click on any links in suspicious emails.
These are just a few ways to recognize and avoid phishing email scams. In short—it's always better to err on the side of caution. If you have any questions, leave a comment below, or don’t hesitate to contact us. We are happy to help!