Email scams are a big problem. While spam filters are getting better at keeping your inbox safe, phishing scammers still manage to get through them. As a result, phishing emails account for 96% of all data breaches reported to the FBI [*].
When you’re checking email, look for the following warning signs:
Bad spelling or grammar
If an phishing email checker is poorly written, it might be a phishing attack. Scammers are often not very good writers, so their writing may include typos and other mistakes that native speakers of English would not make.
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A common phishing attack involves sending a malicious file attached to an email. This attachment can be a piece of malware that hackers use to spy on you, steal sensitive information including bank account numbers and passwords, or lock your device (i.e. ransomware).
In a recent phishing attack, Gimlet Media received an email claiming that there was an issue with the recipient’s Netflix subscription. The email included a link that, when clicked, took the victim to a mock-up of Netflix’s website, and asked them to enter their payment details. The fraudsters hid the destination address within a button (a trend that is becoming increasingly popular). This technique serves two purposes: it makes the email appear more genuine, and it hides the destination address so that it doesn’t show up in an internet search.
If an email asks you to click a link or download an attachment, never do so. Instead, visit the official website of the service the message claims to represent by looking up the name of the service in a trusted search engine or by calling them directly using an phone number found from a reliable source.