Research has revealed that over half of all users end up opening fraudulent emails and often even fall for them. Phishing is done with the aim of gathering personal information about you, generally related to your finances. The most common reason for the large number of people falling for fraudulent emails is that the phishing attempts are often so well-disguised that they escape the eyes of a busy email reader.
Here are a few tips that can help you identify if an email is an attempt at defrauding you:
1. They ask for personal information – Remember, no bank or financial institution asks you to share your key personal information via email, or even phone. So, if you get an email where they ask for your ATM PIN or your e-banking password, something’s amiss.
2. The links seem fake – Phishing emails always contain links that you are asked to click on. You should verify if the links are genuine. Here are a few things to look for:
-Spelling – Check for the misspellings in the URL. Be aware of 1-letter variants.
-Disguised URLs – Sometimes, URLs can be disguised…meaning, while they look genuine, they redirect you to some fraudulent site. You can check the actual URL upon a mouseover, or by right clicking on the URL, selecting the ‘copy hyperlink’ option, and pasting the hyperlink on a notepad file ONLY. NEVER paste the hyperlink directly into your web browser.
-URLs with ‘@’ signs – If you find a URL that has an ‘@’ sign, steer clear of it! Browsers ignore URL information that precedes an ‘@’ sign. For example, the URL firstname.lastname@example.org will take you to mysite.net and NOT to test.com
3. Other tell-tale signs – Apart from identifying fake URLs, there are other tell-tale signs that help you identify fraudulent emails. Some of these include:
-The main message in an email is in the form of an image, which, upon opening, takes you to the malicious URL.
-Another sign is an attachment. Never open attachments from unknown sources as they may contain viruses that can harm your computer and network.
-The message urges you to do something immediately. Scammers often induce a sense of urgency in their emails and threaten you with consequences if you don’t respond.