It’s a sad truth that over half of all users open fraudulent emails.
Phishing is done with the aim of gathering personal information about you, generally related to your money. 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.
Luckily, we’ve got you covered. Here are a few tips that help you to identify whether that email really came from your bank, or if it’s just another attempt at defrauding you…
1. They are asking 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 PIN or your online banking password, something’s amiss.
2. The links seem to be fake. Phishing emails always ask you to click on a link (or several). To verify the links are genuine, here are a few things to look for:
Check for misspellings in the URL. For example, if your bank’s web address is www.natwest.com, a phishing scheme email could misspell it as www.natwast.com or www.natwest-verification.com. Sneaky.
Whilst a URL may look genuine, it can still redirect you to some fraudulent site. You can recognise the actual URL upon a mouseover, or by right clicking on the URL and selecting the “copy hyperlink” option, and then pasting the link into a notepad file. Our top tip? Never paste the hyperlink into your web browser straight off the bat (like, ever).
URLs with @ signs
Steer clear of a URL that has an @ sign, even if it seems legit. Browsers ignore URL information that precedes the @ sign. In other words, the URL firstname.lastname@example.org will take you to mysite.net and not to any NatWest banking page.
3. Other tell-tale signs. Here are the key alarm bells which can help you spot fraudulent emails:
Image emails. Emails where the main message is in the form of an image will often take you to a malicious URL when you open them.
Attachments. Since when were attachments in an email a crime? They’re not. But that’s how they get you. We urge you not to open attachments from unknown sources, which can contain viruses that can permanently harm your compter and network.
Urgent call-to-actions. Does the message push 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. So think twice if you recieve threat of bank account closure if you don’t verify your PIN.
One final tip? We suggest that you get a good anti-virus/email protection program installed asap. It automatically directs spam and junk mail into spam folders and deactivates malicious attachments.