With nearly 1.5m new phishing sites created every month, and 30% of phishing email getting opened by intended victims, the phenomenon has become a cyber plague in the 21st century. A phishing email, as most of you know by now, is an innocent enough email that is sent from a colleague, a friend, or a business that is intended to trick people to provide personal information that can later be used to steal their money or identity.
These emails are sent in an elaborate manner, and the victims on the receiving end find out all too late that the source was not what they thought. To avoid becoming yet another victim of a phishing scam, here are 4 ways you can discover if emails you get are fraudulent:
The sender asks you to confirm personal information
Phishing email usually look authentic, which is why it can be difficult to spot them. However, no matter how authentic the email is, you should never click on attached links that ask you to provide your personal information or email that require you to write down your personal data; if you are required to provide banking information, your social security information, login details, etc, do not provide them; instead, contact the organization that supposedly sent you the email but not with the contact information the email provides you – only contact businesses and organizations by using contact information you already have.
The email writing quality is poor
This is another very important way to spot phishing emails: they are poorly written. So, when you receive an email from an unknown origin or an email that you suspect, notice the grammar and spelling: how is the email written? Are there spelling mistakes on it? be cautious with what emails you trust, and do not be tempted to reply to anyone immediately.
The source is not registered
One of the best ways to know that a particular email is part of a phishing scam is to use a reverse email address service, like GoLookUp, that can provide you with detailed information about the sender. If, for instance, you receive an email from a supposed business, and you want to make sure it is a legitimate business, you can perform a reverse email address search and check the businesses’ information – where it is located, how old it is, who runs it, and more. Phishing emails will usually not be registered, and the search will reveal that. Also, you can run a reverse email search on people’s email and find out their true name, their contact information, and their criminal records which is very helpful in discovering if email addresses are sent from scammers.
The email is urgent and asks you to act quickly
“Quick! You must pay an X amount or your bank account will be closed!” – this type of phrasing is very effective in creating a sense of urgency and causing people to do whatever is asked of them. However, that is exactly what phishers try to do – they want you to act quickly so you will not get in trouble. You should take a couple of minutes to regroup and think if the email makes sense. If you fear that something could really happen, contact the authority that sent the email (not with the contact information in the email itself) and find out what, if anything, is going on.
Falling victim to online fraud is not uncommon, but with a little alertness and healthy paranoia, you can prevent yourself from joining the phishing statistics in the US.