What Are Phishing Email Scams and What to Do?
Millions of legitimate emails are sent every single day. However, many illegitimate email messages are also sent to unsuspecting readers each day as well! Phishing emails are called this because are created to mine or “phish” for information from the recipient. Phishing emails target users to get their bank account information, logins, and passwords. Scams can even be used for social engineering attacks to get innocent data like pets’ names and placed of birth.
Spam messages are sent with various subject lines intended to fool the reader. Phishing scam email subject lines are clever and vary depending to increase the effectiveness and spam filters. A common scam message that threatens to disable your account if you do not reply.
Examples of example phishing subject lines are:
- “Mail Verification” (from a sender that seems familiar)
- You have received a deposit
- Please verify your account details
- Invoice attached (a file with an executable is attached)
Although fake email phishing attempts can be blocked, there is quickly another one to take its place. That’s why it is important to learn to identify phishing scams, use a virus scanner, and keep your electronic devices up-to-date.
Phishing schemes are an attempt to steal personal information through legitimate-looking email messages. The messages urge recipients to click on a link or reply by email and include their passwords, account numbers, or other sensitive information. Legitimate emails do not request that you submit personal information, including any passwords, over email.
If a questionable email is received:
- Do not provide a use rid, social security number, birth date, password, or personal information via email
- Do not respond to emails that require entering of personal or financial information into the email
- Do not click on links that appear suspicious. A link that looks like it goes to a known website, app, or a company may actually send the reader elsewhere
- Institutions shouldn’t request private information via email
How do you know if it is a Scam or Email Phishing?
Always read emails carefully, keep in mind that hackers are now using logos, familiar terminology, and copying websites to appear official Any message requesting username, account password, date of birth, or name information is generally a scam or phishing attempt. A message that is signed by a corporation or organization but comes from a non-corporate email is most likely a scam. Never email personal, account, or financial information at any time. At no point in time, will a legitimate email ever request this information in an email message.
What should you do if you receive a phishing email scam?
- Do not click on any links
- Do not reply to or forward the email to anyone
- If suspicious email is received, delete it
Michelle writes about cyber security as well as how to protect your data online. She has worked in internet technology for over 20 years Michelle earned a B.S. in Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She published a guide to Cyber Security for Business Travelers