Spam Emails – Phishing for Your Valuable Personal Information
There is nothing more insidious in your email than a phishing scam. This illegal practice, done via email, by illegitimate persons or organizations, not only fills up your junk folder, or worse, your inbox. It can also have you unwittingly give up valuable personal information that should always be kept secret, such as passwords or account numbers. It’s a cybercrime, and people get taken in far too often.
In a phishing scam, you will receive an email from a seemingly trustworthy source, such as a financial institution, advising you of some needed action on your part. It might be asking you to verify your identity or report suspicious activity on your account. It might even be the trusty old “bank error in your favor” ruse. The scammer’s goal is to get you to reply to the email and provide them legitimate information about you, for their illegitimate purposes, such as gaining access to your bank account. Here are a few tell-tale signs found within phishing emails you should be wary of.
Signs of a Phishing Email
Check the email domain – no legitimate organization, such as a financial institution, will send you an email from “@gmail.com”. Even Google doesn’t – their domain is @google.com. Even if the rest of the message looks perfect, beware. If the message is coming from a public email domain, it is very likely not legit.
Suspicious attachments, suspicious links – both can be real trouble. If a bogus email from a scammer pretending to be a financial institution includes an attachment, such as a “statement”, for example, it might be very tempting to open it. Trying to open it could instead launch a malicious malware program designed to take over your computer, or reveal your personal information to the sender. They’re known as infected attachments.
Likewise, links, especially ones in the form of a button, such as a logo, inviting you to jump to some legit-looking page or site, could be something similar. Be very, very careful about attachments and links from unfamiliar senders.
Spelling and grammar – of the two, grammar is the more visible giveaway that an email may be a phishing expedition from a scammer. That’s because the senders, even if they’re offshore, can run their text through spell checkers or translation programs, and get most of the words right. If the message or content reads strangely, with poor grammar or structure, for example – it’s entirely possible that it is not what it portends to be. Beware of replying to emails from unknown sources that read strangely.
Urgent action requested – very seldom will your financial institution or credit card company contact you with a message that asks you to act immediately, or with urgency. Nor will the government, at any level; nor will any reputable business you deal with.
These are a few of the most common tell-tale signs of potentially malicious, phishing emails. Be on the lookout; some of them look quite legitimate indeed, complete with proper company names, logos, and other graphics. But check their attributes, including the ones listed here, before replying, supplying info, hitting links, or opening attachments. Better safe than sorry. Proceed with extreme caution.