In today’s modern, tech-savvy world, we would like to believe that we could never be fooled by a social engineering scam or phishing attempt. Phishing the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers. Even if you have security software, phishing is a serious threat, one that can expose you to ransomware. Here’s how to avoid these dangerous emails.The reality is that it is easy to catch someone in this way.

Here are 10 tips to look out for so that you do not become another phishing statistic:

  1.  Check the display name – a phishing tactic is to spoof (imitate) the display name of an email to give it an air of legitimacy. If you click on the name, you will notice that the address differs from the display.
  2. Look but do not click – hover your mouse over any links embedded in the body of the email. If something seems even remotely strange, do not click on it.
  3. Check for bad spelling and grammar.  – brands usually do not make careless mistakes. This is an easy tell. Big companies hire professionals to make sure their emails are perfect. If you’re looking at one that doesn’t look perfect, it’s almost certainly a fake.
  4. Analyse the salutation- legitimate businesses usually use a personal salutation with your first and last name. Look out for vague greetings like “dear use.”
  5. Beware of urgent, threatening language – this is a common strategy to create a sense of panic or to entice you to use poor judgement. Phishing emails try to freak you out with warnings of stolen information or worse, and then offer an easy fix if you just “click here.” (Or the opposite: “You’ve won a prize! Click here to claim it!”) When in doubt, don’t click. Instead, open your browser, go to the company’s website, then sign in normally to see if there are any signs of strange activity. If you’re concerned, change your password.
  6. Review the signature – if you cannot find the sender’s details or information on how to contact the company, this is probably a phish. Legitimate businesses always provide contact details.
  7. Do not click on attachments or links – including malicious attachments that contain viruses and malware is a common phishing tactic used to damage files on your computer, steal passwords or to spy on you without your knowledge. Do not open any email attachments that you were not expecting.
  8. Do not ever give out your personal information – legitimate organisations will never ask for personal credentials via email.
  9. Consider whether you have a relationship with the company that has sent the email – if you receive a message from a company that you do not deal with, assume that this is a phishing scam and ignore it!
  10. Do not believe everything you see – phishers are good at what they do. An email may look convincing and even display the company logo, but this does not mean it is legitimate. Be skeptical! If a message makes you feel even slightly unsettled, do not open it.


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