10 Easy Ways to Spot a Phishing Email
Friday, January 17, 2020
Posted by: Abbey Kwiat
The Empist Team
The message contains a mismatched URL
One of the fastest ways to spot a phishing email is to check for a mismatched URL. If the email sent to you contains a link in it, hover over the link with your mouse and see if the URL is hyperlinked to the matching destination. If the link doesn’t match the copy in the URL, you can confirm it’s invalid.
The copy of the message has misspelling or improper grammar
Maybe hackers don’t use spellcheck? For whatever reason, phishing emails tend to have grammatical errors and misspellings. This could be due to the large volume of spam emails that hackers send out daily. One thing is for certain, if you receive an email from a business or large corporation riddled with spelling errors, it’s likely spam.
You’ve been asked to relay personal information
If it seems off, it probably is. If you get an “out of the blue” request in your email that is asking for your personal information, there is no harm in doublechecking. Separately look up the website of the company reaching out to you (bank, health insurance, workplace, etc.) and contact them directly to confirm whether they sent you this request.
Money is being asked for
Unless you are receiving a receipt to a known bill, it’s unlikely that a legitimate company/individual would be requesting money from you via email. A best practice is to reach out to the individual/company directly through another form of communication that you can confirm as secure and valid.
There is a sense of urgency in the message for you to act on
To spot a phishing email, you need to study the level of urgency in the messaging. If the message sent to you is built around a time limit or scare tactic, that’s a key indicator that you are dealing with a hacker.
The email was sent at an odd time of the day
Get an email from your bank at 2 am? Yeah, we highly doubt it. If the time stamp on your email seems unusual, you have reason to suspect that it’s not coming from a trusted source.
The email address you received the message from is misspelled
One of the first things to look at to spot a phishing email is the sender’s email address. Look closely! You may not realize a letter is missing or additional punctuation is added to the email address that you’ve trusted in the past.
Your login credentials are requested
Is one of the first prompts of the email to provide your login credentials for an account? Unless you requested to reset a password, a company would rarely be asking for your login information via email.
You’re directed to a landing page you don’t recognize
Let’s say you broke the cardinal rule and clicked the link in a questionable email in your inbox. If the page you were directed to doesn’t have proper branding or contains a mismatched URL at the top of the page, do not log in or carry out any further actions on it.
The email was sent to you by a government organization
It should be easy to spot a phishing email from the IRS because the IRS will rarely email anyone. This is a standard rule with most government-run organizations. In fact, most government organizations have an email address they want people to forward any phishing emails you’ve received from them.
Put It into Practice!
Now that we’ve gone over the 10 easy ways to spot a phishing email, you can put your newfound knowledge into practice. Next time you are scrolling through your inbox, remember to stop for a moment and think before you click.