Hundreds of thousands of computers become infected from phishing emails appearing at first glance to be legitimate, and these email appear more than ever during the Holiday Season. Phishing is a form of online identity theft in which fraudsters trick users into submitting personal information to illegitimate web sites. Below is a list of items (from our friends at TechRepublic) that can help you identify phishing emails. If you receive one, just simply delete it permanently by holding down the shift key while pressing the delete key. This will help protect your computer as well as the company’s assets.
1. The message contains a mismatched URL
One of the first things to check about a suspicious email are any embedded URLs. Oftentimes the URL in a phishing message will appear to be perfectly valid. However, if you hover your mouse over the top of the URL, you should see the actual hyperlinked address (at least in Outlook). If the hyperlinked address is different from the address that is displayed, the message is probably fraudulent or malicious.
2. The message contains poor spelling and grammar
Whenever a large company sends out a message on behalf of the company as a whole, the message is usually reviewed for spelling, grammar, and legality, among other things. So if a message is filled with poor grammar or spelling mistakes, it probably isn’t from a legitimate organization.
3. The message asks for personal information
No matter how official an email message might look, it’s always a bad sign if the message asks for personal information. Remember, a reputable company should never send an email asking for your password, credit card number, or the answer to a security question. Additionally, you should never provide this sensitive information over unencrypted email in the first place.
4. The offer seems too good to be true
Always allow common sense to rule: if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That holds especially true for email messages. If you receive a message from someone unknown to you who is making big promises, the message is most likely a scam.
5. You didn’t initiate the action
This goes hand in hand with number 4; you can’t win the lottery if you didn’t buy a lottery ticket. If you get a message informing you that you have won a contest you did not enter, you can bet that the message is a scam.
6. You’re asked to send money to cover expenses
One telltale sign of a phishing email is that you will eventually be asked for money. You might not get hit up for cash in the initial message. But sooner or later, phishing artists will likely ask for money to cover expenses, taxes, fees, or something similar. If that happens, you’re getting phished.
7. The message makes unrealistic threats
Although most of the phishing scams try to trick people into giving up cash or sensitive information by promising instant riches, some phishing artists use intimidation to bully people into giving up information. If a message makes unrealistic threats, it’s probably a scam.
Further, if the message claims to be from a law enforcement agency, the IRS, the FBI, or just about any other entity that might scare the average citizen, be wary. Government agencies don’t often use email as an initial form of contact, especially for a highly-important matter.
8. Something just doesn’t look right
If you receive a message that seems suspicious, don’t ignore your intuition, it’s usually in your best interest to avoid acting on the message. If something looks off, there’s probably a good reason why.
This Holiday Season, use this list keep an eye out for “phishy” emails that could compromise your identity and business.
Source: TechRepublic Blog