06 February 2012

Be on the Lookout for Phishing Emails

Posted on: February 2, 2012 in Industry Issues by Chris Williams

If you keep up with tech news, you might have seen the story recently about a new technology standard developed by Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, and Facebook to cut down on spam emails and phishing attempts. It’s an exciting new technology that will help protect users by increasing checks and reporting on sent emails.

However, even with stricter standards for spam filtering, the occasional phishing email might still find its way to your inbox. Phishing emails are standard emails from people trying to convince you to give them information like passwords, usernames, credit card numbers, social security numbers, or other secure data. Every email user needs to know how to spot phishing emails so they can be deleted.

Here are five easy things to look for that you can use to spot phishing emails before you respond with sensitive information.
Emails from companies or people asking for information they should already have, such as accounts and passwords – a company will never ask you for your password.

Emails asking for personal identity information –  your date of birth, bank account information, social security number, or other personal information. There’s no reason to ever give personal information via email.
Emails with weird formatting, spelling mistakes, or bad grammar – most phishing attempts come from overseas, so they often contain mistakes a native English speaker wouldn’t make. Others are hurriedly prepared, so they may contain mistakes as well.

Links or attachments you didn’t request – never click on a link in an email, or open an attachment, if you didn’t request for a link or attachment to be sent to you.

Unknown senders or strange domain names – if the domain name of the sender looks strange, or the sender is unknown to you, learn more about the sender or company before you take action. If it looks strange, delete or report the email.
Here’s an example of a phishing email:
For more information on spotting a phishing email, check Microsoft’s support page. If you’re a Google user and receive phishing emails, you can learn how to report them to Google here.

Remember the first step is staying vigilant. Don’t provide personal or sensitive information through email if you can avoid it, especially to people you don’t know.

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