And, I don’t mean the activity of catching fish…
The term phishing is a direct relation to spam emails or fraud attacks by a person or company. The technical term is defined as “the activity of defrauding an online account holder of financial information by posing as a legitimate company.”
In layman’s terms, it is when a person or company steals your identification (name and email address) and uses it to defraud other email account holders to get information—or steal money—from them.
In short, a criminal can create a replica of your name & email address, and use it to steal information or money. Cybercriminals can do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your computer.
This practice has picked up steam in the past couple of years as more and more users and businesses are taking to technology to do business or communicate.
How to Detect Phishing Emails
To put it simply, if an email does not look normal or does not read normal, then do not open it or do not click ANY link in the email. Just delete it as quickly as you opened it.
However, we can’t always tell if an email is real or not…can we?
Below is a short list of ways to tell if an email is a phishing email:
- Spelling and Bad GrammarThis is the easiest way to tell if an email is not real. Several words are misspelled or the content in the email does not make sense. Most people or companies speak (or spell) in plain English, and if the email does not read well, then it is probably not a real email.
- Links in EmailsIf the email looks suspicious, please do yourself (and the rest of your contact list) a favor, and DO NOT CLICK the link. The entire reason for the email is to get you to click the link so they–cybercriminals–can download or spread malicious software.
- Threats & GiftsHave you ever received a threat that your account would be closed if you didn’t respond to an email message? Cybercriminals often use threats that your security has been compromised in order to get you to respond or click a link. Or, have you received an email notifying you that someone in another country wants to give you a large sum of money, and all they need is your bank account? If it sounds too good to be true, it is!
- Spoofing popular websites or companies.Scam artists use graphics in emails that appear to be connected to legitimate websites but actually take you to phony scam sites or legitimate-looking pop-up windows. They also use web addresses that resemble the names of well-known companies but are slightly altered. I’ve seen this several times with Paypal, Bank of America and even GoDaddy. If an email seems fake, check the email address and make sure it is a legitimate email address or not.
Long Story Short
If you receive an email like any of the above examples, do not open it (if possible) and immediately delete it. Do not click on any links! And, if your email service provider allows you to blacklist, block or report the email, then click that option immediately.
Stay safe out there!