20 Ways to Spot Phishing Emails, Viruses, and Other Harmful Emails

Don’t forget to follow us on LinkedIn, and YouTube, for updates! Or click here to return to the Blog Page.

In today’s digital age, the email inbox can be a battleground. Unbeknownst to many, it’s not just spam but phishing emails, viruses, and other malicious activities that pose threats. Here’s how to protect yourself and your digital ecosystem: 

  1. Check the Sender’s Email Address

What to Do: Always look at the sender’s email address, not just their name. Fraudsters often use familiar names with a slightly altered email address. 

  1. Look for Spelling and Grammar Errors

What to Do: Official emails are typically well-written. Be cautious of emails riddled with errors. The bad grammar and spelling are not necessarily a mistake either; they can be intentional to weed out savvier recipients.  

  1. Scrutinise the Greeting

What to Do: Generic greetings like “Dear Customer” can be a red flag. Reputable organisations usually personalise their communications.  

  1. Analyse the Content and Tone

What to Do: Is the email urging quick action like updating your details, claiming a prize, or confirming a subscription you don’t remember? Be sceptical, as phishing emails prey on people’s anxiety.  

  1. Beware of Hyperlinks

What to Do: Hover your cursor over any hyperlink to see the actual URL. Hyperlink text could say “login to your account” but the link goes to a spoof page, where they can get your sensitive data and login details. If it looks suspicious or doesn’t match the supposed sender, don’t click.  

  1. Check for Attachments

What to Do: Be wary of unexpected attachments. These could contain viruses or malware. The most common types of attachment scammers use are PDFs, but they can be virtually anything. A new type of business scam is to pretend the user has a voicemail to listen to, but the attachment takes them to an html page to enter their details.  

  1. Inspect the Signature

What to Do: Legitimate emails will usually have a professional signature with contact details. The lack of these could be a sign of a phishing email. Larger corporations will often have a headshot in their signatures, which is another good sign to look for. 

  1. Look for Unusual Requests

What to Do: Emails asking for personal or financial information are almost always a scam. Banks, and legit companies, will never ask you to send sensitive information.  

  1. Examine the Timing

What to Do: Phishing emails often arrive at odd hours. The timing can sometimes be an indicator of foul play. This can be due to the scammer sending the phishing email from a different country, in a different time zone.  

  1. Check for Threatening Language

What to Do: Statements that invoke fear or urgency are a classic tactic in phishing emails. Try to never feel pressured to do anything you are unsure of.  

  1. Verify with the Official Entity

What to Do: When in doubt, contact the institution directly to verify the email’s legitimacy. Do not use the details in the email you received, as these will most certainly be fake. Use a search engine to find the right company details and contact them directly.  

  1. Search for the Subject Line

What to Do: Phishing emails are sent out en masse, meaning there will be other people talking about it. Do a quick Google search of the email’s subject line to see if it matches known email phishing attempts. 

  1. Use Email Security Features

What to Do: Make use of spam filters and security features provided by your email service. These can filter out many harmful emails automatically. 

  1. Be Cautious with Pop-Up Forms

What to Do: Never enter personal information in pop-up forms that appear when you open an email. 

  1. Keep Software Updated

What to Do: Ensure that your browser, Operating System, and antivirus software are up to date. These often contain security patches that can protect you from malware. 

  1. Trust Your Instincts

What to Do: If something feels off, it probably is. Trust your gut feeling and proceed with caution. 

  1. Use Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA)

What to Do: Employing MFA adds an extra layer of security, making it harder for scammers to gain access to your accounts. 

  1. Report Suspicious Emails

What to Do: Report any suspicious emails to your email provider and, if they are impersonating a company, to that company. 

  1. Educate Others

What to Do: Share your knowledge about spotting harmful emails with friends and family. 

  1. Regularly Review Account Statements

What to Do: Regularly review bank and other financial statements for unauthorised activity. 

Keep up to date with how phishing emails are evolving

By knowing how to identify the tell-tale signs of phishing emails and viruses, you can greatly reduce the risk of falling victim to scams and other malicious activities. Stay vigilant and stay safe. 


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *