Have you ever received an email where you were not quite sure if it was from a “legitimate” sender? Maybe the sender's email resembled something (or someone) that you regularly receive emails from, but something was a little off? Then, it was most likely a phishing email. Phishing is a form of social engineering, in which phishers pose as a trusted organization to trick you into providing them with your information via email.
How can you tell the difference?
Many phishing emails are filled with grammatical errors, odd capitalization, and many occurrences of misspelling. The emails might also contain odd phrases or sentences that sound a bit off. One of the easiest ways to tell if an email is a scam is to hover over the message or button that is asking you to click (but DO NOT click it), as this will show the link's URL. In turn, this will show you whether or not the URL is real or compromised by a fake account claiming to be someone or something they are not. By not clicking on the URL, the phisher does not have access to your accounts, instead, the URL provides a preview for you to make sure the email is either legitimate (worth clicking on) or not.
For example, one of the most commonly seen acts of phishing is the cutting and pasting of logos which are represented by government agencies, banks, and credit card providers. Emails that contain these popular and well-known logos catch the eye of the viewer because they are important and represent “trustworthy” brands, companies, and individuals.
Remember...Clues that an email is NOT legitimate:
- Grammatical errors
- Low-resolution logo
- Odd URL
What can you do? How to protect yourself against phishing attacks:
Two-factor authentication, or 2FA, is one of the best ways to protect your personal or financial information. On the other hand, make sure that you create a password that is easily undetectable to outside sources. Consider even creating a “passphrase”, which is a password that includes mixed-case text, special characters, and numbers. For example “MyDogSpot_Is2YearsOld#”. This increases the chances that your account will not be hacked due to scammers or phishers. Overall, pay attention to the language of the emails, and do not trust any email addresses that you have not seen before!
Now you know!