Phishing attacks are increasingly on the rise. Their format and appearance have become so sophisticated that it can be difficult to identify the scams. It has been estimated that on a daily basis 156 million phishing emails are sent. Some don’t make it through spam filters but out of those that do 8 million are opened by the recipient. Everyday 80 000 people become victims of phishing scams.
They are duped into sharing personal information which in turn can lead to identity theft, credit card fraud and your bank account being wiped out.
How can you identify phishing emails? How can you avoid becoming a phishing victim? Here are some tips we’ve compiled to help keep you safe and avoid getting caught in a phishing net.
Avoiding phishing scams
Ensure ALL your devices are secure. You need to make sure you have up to date malware and antivirus software as these often have built-in anti-phishing detection.
Don’t take everything at face value. Phishing scams look very convincing and legitimate on the surface but be very wary as they are not always what they seem to be. Emails are designed to incorporate all the correct logos and have the look and feel of being legitimate and this can cause people to drop their guard. Remember your bank, credit card company, PayPal will not ask for personal information and things like pin codes in an email!
Don’t trust the display name. Check the email address in the header. For example the display name may be viewed as a trusted source XYZBank but the actual email address appears very different and suspicious notice@XYZBank. It is very easy to spoof an email address.
Don’t click external links. These may contain malware or viruses that will infect your device. Instead manually type the address of the business they are claiming to be into your browser so that you know you are on the correct site. A big giveaway with links is if you hover over them with your mouse in the email you can see where the link would take you and often they will look suspicious.
Don’t open attachments. Again these may contain malware or viruses that can infect your device. The most popular ones are ones claiming to be delivery notices from companies like Amazon and DHL. They will contain an attachment which is a zip file which will contain the payload (the virus or malware). If you have good virus detection software these are usually picked up and quarantined early.
Spelling mistakes and poor grammar. These are a good give away sign that it could be a phishing scam. A lot of these scams seem to be generated by people who do not have English as their first language leading to mistakes that you would not see in an email from your bank.
Using threatening language or a call for some sort of action in the subject line. These can include things like “Your account will be closed” or “You must take action now”. These are again clear signs that this is not from a genuine company and is likely a phishing scam.
Check contact details. All legitimate businesses will provide contact details. Often phishing emails use the line “Please do not reply to this e-mail as this is only a notification. Mail sent to this address cannot be answered”.
Most Importantly Remember to never disclose passwords, or personal details via email. No bank or legitimate business will ever ask their customers for security information via email. If you spot anything suspicious or have concerns you can report it directly to the trusted source it has supposedly come from. Alternatively report it to Action Fraud: the National Fraud and Cyber Crime Reporting Centre www.actionfraud.police.uk