How do you spot a phishing scam?

How do you spot a phishing scam?

People often receive marketing communications in our email inboxes due to newsletters we’ve signed up for or for companies we have bought from. However, plenty of people also receive emails that claim our accounts have been hacked and that we need to login via a specific link to find out what has gone wrong.

It is all too easy to panic and believe it, all too easy to click that link and login just to see that there is nothing wrong with our account – and then realising we have fallen victim to one of the oldest tricks in the book, a phishing scam. These emails are incredibly common (people sometimes receive many in a day) and it can be hard to work out if an email is the real thing or a scam.

A thing to remember is that companies will not send out unsolicited emails to their customers and especially not to people who aren’t even their customers – how many of us have received these scam emails from Apple, eBay and Amazon when we don’t even hold an account with them? Companies also advise not clicking on any links within the body of text and they instead advise logging in through the website after you have typed the URL yourself.

Major companies such as Apple and PayPal often find their names being used as a front with scammers pretending to be them. The onslaught of phishing emails in recent years has even led companies to set up special email addresses and phone hotline for people to report any fraudulent communication they believe they have received.

As would be expected, the busier times of year see the scammers come out in full force. Whilst people may receive such emails consistently throughout the year, they become more susceptible at certain times of year, especially Christmas when everyone is so busy trying to ensure they have the perfect holiday season. Everyone becomes a little more vulnerable at tis time of year and the scammers definitely take advantage of this. With increased marketing communication from genuine companies, a phishing email is much more likely to be missed and considered the real thing, especially if it is really elaborate and looks the part.

There are plenty of companies all across the world who are affected by these scams and are trying their best to prevent it. PayPal and eBay have special email addresses to contact and information on their websites, Wonga were used as the mask for an attack just last year. Resulting in the creation of a specialist fraud hotline to warn their South African customers of phishing activity that used their image targeting hundreds of people (nb: no data link occurred on any Wonga site for clarity’s sake the contact information of the various targets was obtained elsewhere). it’s important that they keep educating customers on spotting the subtle differences that can distinguish a scam from a genuine email – one letter or digit difference in the email address, a link within the body of the text, grammar and spelling which is not quite right. It is important as both company and consumer alike to remain vigilant at all times and stop these scams from taking effect.

Category Business, Featured