Once upon a time, not so long ago, it was easy to spot one of those scary “phishing” emails. They were very plain looking (only text), full of spelling mistakes, and a total field day for anyone who loves to correct basic grammar! So, the email-receiving public got better at spotting them. Yay for us!
However, the “phishermen” didn’t just go away. They have kept going, frantically casting their lines, sending millions of messages, to whatever addresses they can find, in the hope that they will still get just a few bites. And since we’ve got smarter, the “phishermen” have upped their game!
Now their emails come with all the bells and whistles – logos, officially-looking names and titles, and well-written, official-looking text. So how do you spot the fakes from the legit emails? How do you know if it is a “phisher”, or someone has genuinely tried to change your PayPal password and it’s time to do a security update??
Well, here are a couple of flags, that may help, next time you receive a suspicious email…
The first thing you can check is the email address of the person who sent it to you. Sometimes, they will cleverly try to disguise it, by adding an official-looking display name, so at first glance it actually looks like it is from Microsoft Tech Support (or something similar). You need to look beyond that display name and look carefully at the actual email address part. Does it look legit? For example, is it from something like email@example.com (using the company’s official URL) … or something a little more random like firstname.lastname@example.org (clearly, this dude does NOT work at Microsoft!).
If it’s the latter, delete and move on!
So, you think the email address looks ok, but you are still not completely sure. What else can you do?
Well, the next part you can check is to look at the link they want you to click… but WITHOUT CLICKING IT! Sounds a touch dangerous, I know… a little like looking into a Lion’s mouth! However, there is a way of seeing the link address without ever clicking it.
If you just hover your mouse (or touchpad) pointer over the link location, on your screen (NO CLICKING!), you will see a preview of the link address appear in 2 places – one will be in the bottom left corner of your window… and the second will be on a little pop-up by the link itself.
If that link is shortened to something that just looks like random letters, or any address other than the official URL of that business, delete and move on!
That should pretty much cover it, but if you are still in any doubt, do feel free to contact us and check first, before you get caught hook, line and sinker!