What is Phishing?
It’s unfortunate that our world has thieves and scammers out there, but it’s the reality. The good news is, you can get smarter about recognizing email scams, so the next time a scammer comes along, you can simply delete the message. In the digital age, it’s so easy to defraud someone, especially through a common scam method known as phishing.
What is phishing? Phishing is an email scam method whereby scammers try to trick you into providing personal information by sending you a legitimate-looking email that appears to be from a well-known, trusted website. These cyber criminals are “fishing” for your information; that’s their game and they are waiting for their “big catch.” Their attempt with this scammy email is to somehow obtain some information of yours. Whether it be your email address and password, credit card information, bank card information, or really any other private information that can be used to steal your identity or get money out of you.
Read up on the email phishing prevention tips below so you’re prepared the next time someone tries to take advantage of you, your wallet, and identity. We’ve also made an infographic for you to share on social media or your website to help keep your friends and family safe from these email scams.
Three Red Flags of Phishing Email Scams
1. Poor Spelling and Grammar
Check the spelling and grammar of the message. While one would think that someone who goes so far out of their way to devise a plan to scam someone, would at least spell check and read over their email, it’s often not the case. But good for that, because it makes it that much easier to spot. If the email is full of bad English and spelling errors, press delete.
Are they threatening you in some way? Maybe they are threatening that your email address will be blocked? Or you will need to respond to them immediately because if you don’t, “some other other action will be taken.” If this is the case, this is another huge red flag waving in your face.
3. Links to Bogus Websites
Is there a link in their email? Likely so. Go ahead and hover your mouse button over that link. Don’t click it, just hover. Does it match up? Probably not. The link you see might seem totally legitimate, something like, www.paypal.com, a very recognizable and well-known website. They do this to fool you. Again, hover your mouse button over it and you will find a small pop-up that actually reveals the true website, which may look like a completely different website with lots of special characters. Clicking this site, even if you don’t enter any information, could jeopardize your computer and its information. Don’t click it!
Fronting as another website is also a common fraudulent attempt to scam you. Perhaps the scammer is using a well-known website or graphic in their email to make you think it’s from the legitimate website or company. But if you look closely, you will be able to see they have slightly altered it. This is a very sneaky and good way to fool someone.
Three Popular Email Scam Tactics
1. The PayPal Scam
In this scam, the email tells you you’ve received a payment and “to click this link” in order to access it. Instead of PayPal, the link will take you to a fraudulent site where you’ll be asked to enter your bank information or a virus will be installed on your computer.
To protect yourself from this scam, always go straight to the PayPal website by typing it yourself in the web search bar. Also, think for a second and ask yourself, are you expecting a payment? If not, there’s a high chance the email is a scam.
2. The Too-Good-to-Be-True Scam
In this scam, the email tells you that you’re receiving a large sum of money in inheritance, or perhaps that you’ve won some amazing prize money. If sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Look for the red flags we mentioned above, and if you see them, that could be a tip-off that this is a scam.
To protect yourself from this scam, delete this email and don’t click on the links. If this is a real deal, the sender will try to contact you in some other way.
3. The Fake Charity Scam
In this scam, you’ll be told some sob story that’s designed to get you to pony up some cash to help the person in need. Don’t let your heart get the best of you. There are terrible people out there who will play on your heartstrings and then string you along until you pay up to a fake charity.
To protect yourself from this scam, delete this email and donate to reputable charities you find on your own.
Hopefully you’re now armed with the knowledge you need to avoid responding to one of these sly phishing scams. Always take care of your information and think twice before sending and entering in information.
Now that you know how to protect yourself from email phishing scams, make sure to read our blog post about the most common phone scams targeting seniors.