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3 ways to avoid being caught by a phishing email

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For many of us, it happens so quickly, part of a busy morning in the office perhaps. We are going through emails, and suddenly, we find ourselves following a link to update our important banking information. Just like that, our critical personal information is in the hands of another person.

No one is immune from falling to a phishing scam. A phishing scam can trap even the smartest among us. In fact, earlier this year, the Puerto Rican government lost millions in a phishing scam. One of its agency executives transferred money in response to an email regarding a change in a banking account.

So if you have been caught in a phishing scam, do not be embarrassed. It really can happen to anyone.

Spot the scam email before you click on anything

Look for these sure signs of a scam email:

  • Domain name problems: Check the email address from which the email was sent. Perhaps there is a misspelling of the domain name (like “@welsfargo” for example), or perhaps it’s coming from a public domain. These are sure signs that someone is trying to scam you.
  • Fundamental communication problems: It’s amazing how the smart people operating these phishing scams can’t seem to run a basic spell-check program. Look for poor communication issues like misspellings, bad grammar and awkward construction.
  • Links or attachments: Almost all phishing scam emails contain some kind of suspicious link or attachment that could infuse a virus that would open access to your computer’s information. Never open an attachment or link on an email unless you are sure that the email and attachment are legitimate.

These are some obvious examples, but sometimes your first tipoff is nothing quite that specific. Sometimes you get a sense that something is a bit…off. If you keep alert to it, you might be surprised how much you can get a sense of something being off.

When you get that feeling, take a closer look. Check all the details. Does the “bank” logo look right? Are there any grammatical errors? Is there a surprising sense of urgency to the email (i.e. you MUST transfer your banking information IMMEDIATELY)?

With these tips, you should be able to spot and avoid being caught by the typical phishing scams. Unfortunately, these scams are the underbelly of the internet that will no go away. We all have to be vigilant to pick up these warning signs and protect our assets against these faceless and heartless scammers.