Email gained widespread popularity in the 90s, and since then, phishing scams have been showing up in inboxes across the globe. An email phishing scam is a fraudulent email message that appears to come from legit organizations, such as internet service providers, universities, reputable banks, social network sites, email providers, software vendors, etc.
These emails direct users to a spoofed website or cause you to click on potentially harmful links. The purpose of scammers is to divulge your private information, including personal info, SSN, credit card, passwords, or general account information, to access your account.
Bear in mind that the perpetrators use this info to commit identity theft. Generally, phishing emails fall into three categories: traditional phishing attack, spear phishing, and whaling. Before discussing five practical ways to recognize an email phishing scam, it is crucial to know these three categories. Read on to learn more…
Traditional Phishing Attack
It is one of the most common phishing attacks that casts a wide net and dupes many people. The ‘Nigerian prince advance-free scam’ is a popular example of a traditional phishing attack. It occurs when you pay money to someone and anticipate receiving greater value. Unfortunately, you receive nothing in return.
Scammers use the spear-fishing technique to target individuals or groups of people. A spear is an email phishing scam that uses information about a particular small business or restaurant to target one or more employees. It usually looks like an email from a family member or friend.
Whaling scams or attacks have become popular in recent years. Scammers use these attacks to target high-profile victims, such as a company executive and his/her team. A typical whaling phishing email looks like you receive it from your company’s CEO. However, it is a fake email designed to get valuable information about your company.
Ways to Recognize an Email Phishing Scam
Cybercriminals have improved their phishing game since the early 2000s. Although it is challenging to identify phishing emails these days, you can use the following five techniques to avoid becoming a victim.
- Identify the Display Name
Most people become victims of an email phishing scam because they don’t focus on the display name of the email address. Most often, the display name has a similar spelling to a valid email address.
It is crucial to look more closely to see a typo in the domain or email address. Compare it with the original email address to ensure the email you have received is not a scam. For instance, if [email protected] is genuine, the other one may look like [email protected] or [email protected]
- Look but Don’t Click
Companies and brands are pretty serious about their email security and make strong efforts to provide their customers with exceptional experiences. Remember, legit emails typically don’t have many spelling and grammar mistakes.
If the email contains links, hover your mouse over them in the email body. If the link address is a bit strange or looks unusual, don’t click on it. Open a new window and type the address directly instead of clinking on the link from the email. That way, you can test the link and determine whether it is safe or a scam.
- Don’t Give Up Personal Information
Reputable companies such as banks never ask for personal information or credentials via email. If the email asks you to provide your credit card or social security numbers, it is an email phishing scam.
In these instances, you must not give up your personal information. If there is a lack of detail about the company, it means the email is fake or should be investigated more. You should call the company and ask for a representative to assist you.
- Check the Header from Email Address
Email scammers spoof brands in the display name. However, they also spoof businesses in the header from email addresses. Recent research shows that about 30% of 760,000+ email threats studied imitated companies in the header.
Fraudsters take advantage of the core email protocols that lack authentication. Spam emails or phishing attacks can spoof the header to mislead you about the sender. The primary objective is to get you open and respond to the message.
- Don’t Click on Attachments
Harmful attachments, such as a PDFs, Microsoft Word, Photo, Video, etc., may contain malware. It is a popular email phishing scam or technique used by fraudsters. The purpose is to damage your computer through malware or malicious files and spy on you or steal your data, passwords or other confidential information.
One way to recognize an email phishing scam is to receive attachments from known users. If you don’t recognize the sender and/or it’s company domain, you should not open the attached files to protect your computer from malware and viruses.
Don’t Fall Victim to Email Phishing Scams
Email phishing scams have become more sophisticated. It is very likely that you or your company may fall victim to them if you don’t know how to recognize these scams. It is crucial to follow a proactive approach and focus on the techniques provided above to prevent phishing scams. As a safeguard, you can partner with an IT consultant such as Cyber Tech Connection to help prevent and mitigate the risk of email scams and more.