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How To Spot A Phishing Scam

By now, you have probably heard the term “phishing.” In case you haven’t, or if you just need a refresher, a phishing scam occurs when a scam artist tries to get you to give him or her your sensitive information such as a password, user name, bank account information, credit card details, etc. These phishing scams usually come in the form of an email. Often times, they lure you into clicking on a malicious link. 

1). Appeal To Emotion

A phish will attempt to elicit specific emotions such as…
 
  • Greed: A phishing scam may tempt you with a monetary reward in return for clicking on a link or providing your personal information. If the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.
 
  • Curiosity: Phishing emails will take advantage of your natural curiosity by promising to show you something exciting in exchange for clicking on a link, or entering your personal information. This is often referred to as click-bait, and is very common on social networking sites.
 
  • Urgency: A phishing scam may also try to place a sense of urgency on you to complete a certain action. This is a major red flag. 
 
  • Fear: Phishing scams will often times use threats as a way to get you to act. Don’t fall for this.
Email inbox with spam highlighted | Appeal To Emotion
A trash can with red envelopes sticking out | Strange Email Elements

2). Strange Email Elements

Often times phishing scams are carried out via email. Some signs of a suspicious email include…
 
  • Odd Sender Address: If the sender’s email address does not match the sender’s name in his or her signature, or if the sender’s email address includes many random letters and symbols, approach with caution.
  • Strange Tone: If the email content does not read well, and contains multiple misspellings and grammatical errors, do not click any links, open any attachments, or provide the sender with any personal information. 

3). Unexpected Attachments & Requests For Action

Always be mindful of the actions you take online. Be highly skeptical of…
 
  • Attachments: If you receive an attachment from someone you do not know, or from someone you were not expecting an attachment from, proceed with caution. If you’re unsure about the validity of an attachment do not open it, as doing so could infect your device if the attachment is malicious.

 

  • Login Pages: Be highly skeptical of any email that asks you to click on a link and login to one of your accounts to avoid being locked out. If you click the link in the email, and enter your credentials, the scammer could gain access to your account.

 

  • Links: Be careful of the links you click on from an email. Malicious links could infect your computer or mobile device. Before you click a link, place your cursor over it to inspect it. If you are unsure if it is valid, it’s better to not click and be safe rather than sorry.
A man with a hooded sweatshirt on typing on computer | Unexpected Attachments & Requests For Action

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