For as long as the internet has been in wide use, cybercriminals have perpetrated phishing scams. Phishing entails tricking targets into sharing important personal information and has been known to result in massive financial losses and even identity theft. Although phishers have branched out into emails and phone calls in recent years, email has long been their preferred tool. In some instances, emails from phishers are fairly easy to identify, but this isn’t always the case. Being fooled by a single phishing email can result in a host of undesirable consequences, so when perusing your inbox, take care to remain on guard. To ensure that you’re never taken in by a phisher’s email, keep an eye out for the following red flags.
Carefully Review the Sender’s Name and Email Address
When most of us look at our inbox, we only see the names attached to the messages we’ve received. Since phishers are easily able to spoof the names of people who email you on a consistent basis, names alone generally aren’t the best indicator of a message’s authenticity. Should you receive an email that purports to be from a friend, family member or professional colleague that requests the sharing of sensitive information or advises you to click on a link, it’s best to proceed with caution. Rather than trust the name implicitly, take care to verify the email address. If the address does not correspond to the name, this should serve as a red flag. Additionally, since phishers are sometimes able to spoof the addresses of your contacts, messages that contain links or requests for sensitive information should typically be regarded as dangerous.
Examine the Email’s Format
If a phisher is able to spoof the name of a trusted confidante and their respective email address, there are still ways to catch them at their game. Checking the format of a message is among the most effective ways to go about his. If the format of a certain message isn’t in keeping with the format(s) typically used by the sender, this should set off an alarm bell. If you’re unclear on whether this format has been used by the sender in the past, check this message against their previous communiqués. An inconsistent format is a huge clue that the sender is not who they purport to be. Clicking on the links found in such messages is liable to direct you to a site that’s swimming in malicious software. Website owners on the hunt for cloud-based solutions for malware infestation can find answers by reading a SiteLock review.
Get in Touch with Friends and Family Members
As previously stated, phishers often send targets texts and emails that purport to be from friends and family members. In some cases, these messages are easy to recognize as fraudulent, but if the phisher decides to adopt a more personalized approach, this may prove difficult, especially if the format and email address are consistent with the alleged sender’s other messages. Whenever you’re unclear on whether a message actually came from its purported sender, simply place a call to the party in question. This is one of the safest and most surefire methods of determining a message’s authenticity.
Always Scan Attachments
Since messages from phishers frequently contain malicious attachments, it’s in your best interest to scan email attachments before proceeding to download them. More often than not, these attachments contain malware designed to hijack devices and steal personal data. This is where effective anti-virus software enters the picture. Before downloading any email attachments, use your preferred anti-virus programs to run scans on them. This shouldn’t take more than a couple minutes, and it can save you a tremendous amount of time, money and hassle in the long run.
There’s little wonder as to why online scammers are so fond of phishing. It requires minimal tech knowhow and very little effort. Furthermore, even if only one in 100 targets is receptive to a scam, the phisher still stands to make a handsome profit. Luckily, there are a number of simple ways to protect yourself from falling prey to the machinations of phishers. Taking heed of the warning signs discussed above can dramatically diminish your chances of becoming a phisher’s next victim.