We’ve all had suspicious emails in our inboxes, and unfortunately there is a good chance at least a few reading this have clicked on a bad link or opened an infected file and have been victims of email phishing fraud. While these targeted fraudulent emails that are intended to appear genuine and from trustworthy sources were, and some continue to be, easily identifiable as scam emails, many scammers have caught on to this and are creating more sophisticated approaches that only the most aware people stand a chance of spotting them before it’s too late. How can you identify a phishing email and protect yourself?
Be extra cautious if you don’t recognize the sender
If you see an email from a sender you don’t recognize, automatically be on alert. Especially with work email accounts, you never know who might be emailing you so there’s a higher risk of you clicking into the email and any links that could be from potential clients or suppliers without taking a second to inspect the email details. While unknown senders should raise flags, you should also automatically inspect any and all incoming emails to your inbox.
Take a look at the actual email address it came from
Many email phishing scams use email addresses that are carefully designed to look legitimate, or they try to stay under the radar with email addresses that look very fake but are hidden by software providers who show the name of the sender rather than the full email address. If you receive an email from a known sender, or one which looks to be legitimate, but the message of the email doesn’t seem to match up with what you might expect them to say, click on the sender name to reveal the actual email address the email is coming from.
Don’t click suspicious links or download suspicious files
Almost any type of attachment can be infected by harmful viruses or malware which can infect the device being used to check your emails. As a general rule, if you don’t recognize the sender don’t click or download anything. Even if a suspicious looking link or attachment is included in an email from a trusted source, you should still confirm through another form of communication that the information sent was indeed sent from them and is safe to click or open and not as a result of their account being hacked. It may take an extra few minutes to call or text to verify with the sender, but it will save you a headache in the case that the link or attachment are infected.
While scammers are coming up with new and more sophisticated methods to fool people into clicking links or downloading files in an effort to infect computers and steal personal information or demand payment, by taking a few extra steps to inspect incoming email messages a little more you can increase your chances of avoiding becoming the victim of email phishing fraud.