Ten ways to spot a phishing email


We wanted to remind you about phishing. Phishing is when cyber-criminals try to trick you into doing something to benefit them, such as sharing your credentials, transferring funds or opening email attachments.

Phishing emails come in all shapes and sizes, but fortunately there are some tell-tale signs you can look for to help you identify out potential scams:

1. It just doesn’t look right. Is there something a little off with the email? Is it too good to be true? Trust your instincts if they tell you to be suspicious.

2. Generic salutations. Instead of directly addressing you, phishing emails often use generic names like “Dear Customer.” Using impersonal salutations saves the cyber-criminals time so they can maximize their number of potential victims.

3. Links to official-looking sites asking you to enter sensitive data. These spoofed sites are often very convincing, so before revealing personal information or confidential data examine the site to make sure it’s real.

4. Unexpected emails that use specific information about you. Information like job title, previous employment, or personal interests can be gleaned from social networking sites and then used to make a phishing email more convincing.

5. Unnerving phrases. Thieves often use phrases meant to scare you (such as saying your account has been breached) to trick you into acting without thinking, and in doing so revealing information you ordinarily would not.

6. Poor grammar or spelling. This is often a dead giveaway. Unusual syntax is also a sign that something is wrong.

7. Sense of urgency. For example: “If you don’t respond within 48 hours, your account will be closed.” By convincing you the clock is ticking, thieves hope you’ll make a mistake.

8. “You’ve won the grand prize!” These phishing emails are common, but easy to spot. A similar, trickier variation is asking you to complete a survey (thus giving up your personal information) in return for a prize.

9. “Verify your account.” These messages spoof real emails asking you to verify your account with a site or organisation. Always question why you’re being asked to verify – there’s a good chance it’s a scam.

10. Cybersquatting. Often, cyber-criminals will purchase and “squat” on website names that are similar to an official website in the hopes that users go to the wrong site. Always take a moment to check out the URL before entering your personal information.

We hope you find this information useful. If you would like any further advice about phishing, please contact us on 01707 607100.