A scam email – or a phishing email – is way that cyber criminals try to track individuals and businesses into giving up their account information and passwords, or a way for them to unlock a door into your hard drive to infect your computers with malware and viruses.
With more of our lives being lived on screens and more and more phishing emails find their way through spam filters evert day, it’s important you know how to spot scam. Here are the five questions you should ask yourself before you press any buttons.
- Is the email addressed to you, or your email?
When you sign up for a subscription, or almost anything that involves money, you’ve probably given your name, and most of the time the people who email you use an email automation service that will plug in your name after ‘Dear’. But if the email is addressed to ‘User’ or your email address, chances are it’s a scam.
- Who sent the email?
Emails from corporations like Microsoft or Apple are usually quite simple: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. Phishing emails tend to look a little more complicated. The below email had the original users email address in its email address, while the second was from Microsoft but send through a purdue account.
- Is the email trying to scare you?
Phishing emails use language and images designed to scare you. Emergency, frightening, urgent and failure are often in them, and usually some inflated figures and exclamation marks. If Microsoft realizes there is a bug in it’s software, it doesn’t want to worry it’s clients. The language shifts to trying to calm you down before you even know what the issue is.
- Where are you clicking to?
When there is a link showing, if you’re on you’re computer you can hover your mouse over the link and if your own the phone, hold the link down and it should show you a preview. If the link doesn’t lead you back to the right website, it’s safer not to click.
- Why do you have to click at all?
If Commbank or Westpac have a power outage, or stop working, they won’t ask you to login to their website to find out more information. They will just tell you in the email and might direct you to a public contact page if you have any further information. Email with urgent information probably won’t want you to login at all.
If you ask yourself these five questions, and still feel like the email might be a scam, try calling your bank, or service provider and ask for more information. If it’s a large scale scam, they’ve already been alerted to the situation.