How to Avoid Phishing Attacks and Other Email Traps

Posted October 20, 2016

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Email is incredibly quick and convenient. Unfortunately, it’s also really easy to be tricked into doing stupid things that can have very serious consequences. Like giving away your credit card number or banking login. 

Phishing: it’s like regular fishing, minus the fish, the boat, and the legality.

It sounds obvious. ‘Don’t give away your password.’ But every day, hundreds of thousands of people fall victim to thieves who have gotten really clever with email-based attacks called ‘phishing.’ Someone pretends to be a person or company you know or trust. They send an email that looks legitimate and trick you into giving up personal information. Here’s an example: 

The idea is to scare and pressure you into quickly responding before you can see that something is fishy (pun intended). Here are three ways to tell that an email is fake:

  1. Email content has no personal feel or connection
  2. Uses unfamiliar email address and hyperlinks
  3. Requests sensitive information

So you've got an email, and it looks fake. Now what? Don’t reply, just delete it. Still concerned? Call the actual company (but not any numbers provided on the suspicious email), family member, boss, etc. and double check that they sent the email and discuss the sharing of sensitive info.

Oh, and one other thing: never open suspicious attachments. These attachments, when opened, infect your computer with malware, ransomware, or something similar.

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