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Six signs of phishing emails

Spot phishing emails

Phishing email – A fake email designed to trick you into clicking a link to a fake website.

Scammers have been around long before email. They used to knock on doors asking to read our meters but that was just a ruse to steal our precious jewellery. With the advent of the internet and email these unscrupulous scammers have moved to doing the same thing online now.

So, instead of dressing up as the meter reader they have switched to sending fake emails instead. They are pretty smart at it too. Long before sending out their fake emails they will have done their prep work. First they set up fake a website that looks very similar to the genuine website: something like It doesn’t take long to do or cost much either.

They then send you an email that looks very convincing and is carefully crafted to entice you to click the link to their fake website.

So to help you stay safe we have put together the top 6 red flags to look out for in Phishing Emails…

1. You were not expecting this email

The number one red flag is unexpected email. Phishing emails can appear to be from your bank, HMRC or even a friend.

It can be hard to resist clicking links though as scammers use all sorts of mind games to get you to click. They will use powerful phrases like…

  • Your password has expired, please set a new one.
  • We couldn’t deliver your parcel, please reschedule.
  • You have received a voicemail from xxxxxxxxx.
  • Your account hasn’t been used in x months, please login.
  • You’re due a HMRC tax refund, claim it before it expires.
  • Download this file I have shared with you.

And that’s just the ones we can think of. Remember, these scammers are rogues and they will be thinking of new ones to catch you out even as you read this.

Protection: Never click a link in an unexpected email. Using a phone number you know is good, call and check with the sender if this is a genuine email. Don’t use the phone number in the email it could be a fake number.

What all of those compelling phrases above have in common is that they really want you to click the link in their Phishing Emails. They need you to click that link.

Because when you click the link, that’s when they can harvest your details. Their fake website is likely to look very convincing and ask you for personal information like your bank log in details or your username and password for social media.

If you do enter your information the next trick they use is to say you entered it incorrectly and try again. So you try a different email/password combination. All the while they are recording these entries in their database.

The website you arrive at after clicking the link can also harvest lots more information like your IP Address, the type of device you’re using and even which browser you used.

Powerful stuff eh?

Protection: Never click a link that arrived unexpectedly. Go to the website using your bookmarks or internet history instead.

3. Poor spelling and grammar

Of course mistakes can happen to the best of us. Big organisations however tend to pass their emails through multiple review layers. So poor spelling and grammar should be highly unlikely. If you receive a poorly written, unexpected email compelling you to click a link you are already at 3 red flags!

Protection: Don’t click the link, find a known good phone number and call the sender instead.

4. An offer too good to be true = Phishing Email

So far we have covered the harder points to spot.

Now one of the easiest. If it contains an offer that is too good to be true, then it most likely is. If you’ve won the lottery then, I’m sorry to say, you won’t get an email telling you to claim your millions.

Protection: Take your lottery ticket down to the newsagent and watch their face as they scan it. You’ll soon know if you really did win!

5. The email knows too much about you

Scammers have developed Phishing Emails in recent years to become ‘spear phishing’. This type of phishing is an email or offer designed especially for your business.

Criminals harvest details from public sources, such as your company website (full name, job title, email address), social media (education history, birthday, names of friends), a recent function or award, and then use it in the email.

Protection: Limit your personal details online. For example, it’s nice to have your birthday on social media but it is a very useful piece of personal information for scammers.

One of the most effective tricks used in phishing emails is creating links which sound almost right. For example, the fake instead of the correct

If you hover over the link with your mouse it will show you the real link. If it doesn’t look right, or is completely different from the link text, bin that email.

Protection: Get in the habit of hovering over and thoroughly checking every link before you click anything.

Can you switch off Phishing Emails?

This is possibly the most frequently asked question we get. It’s understandable to think that this is some sort of computer ‘thing’ that can simply be turned off at a flick of a switch.

But when you realise these are criminals at large you can understand that you can’t just “turn it off” in the same way as you can’t stop a scammer knocking on your door and asking to read your meter.

Does good Antivirus stop Phishing Emails?

Oh wouldn’t it be great if stopping Phishing Emails was that easy. Antivirus and Antimalware products do try to protect you, but you can’t rely on them because…

  • Scammers are constantly looking for a way of avoiding your antivirus.
  • What if your antivirus is expired and you haven’t noticed?
  • What if the protection isn’t working that day?
  • Sometimes the antivirus does warn you but it can be easy to accidentally ‘skip‘ the warning!

All of these reasons means only one thing: You should get in the habit of checking every unexpected email and trust no-one but yourself.

If you have any questions about spotting Phishing Emails or want us to check your Antivirus for you give us a call on 03333 055 055.

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