There isn’t a day that goes by without some form of fraud being committed by unscrupulous individuals. The best way to protect yourself is to be aware of the methods dishonest people use to get in touch with you. For example, email phishing is a very widespread practice, with some 260 million fraudulent messages sent each day.
Phishing involves sending messages that appear to be from a trusted company (e.g. bank, government, reputable organization, etc.) in order to get you to divulge your personal information. This information is then used to assume your identity for malicious purposes or to rob you of your belongings.
Usually, these types of messages look quite legitimate in appearance. If they don’t, you should already be on your guard! Here are five other points to consider:
- The sender’s name and address
If the sender&rsquorsquo;s name is not related to the domain name in the sender’s address, it’s a bad sign. For example, if you receive an email from Paypal and the sender’s address is firstname.lastname@example.org, it’s probably fake! In general, a legitimate email from Paypal would come from an address such as email@example.com.
This may seem strange, but criminals often tend to make spelling or grammatical errors in their messages. People who reply to such messages show that they’re not paying attention and as a result are prime targets to be swindled.
Before you click on a link in a message (e.g. www.ABCbank.ca/myaccount), place your mouse cursor over the link to verify whether the address displayed matches the link. In addition, check whether any links lead to “.exe” (executable) files, which are notorious for being malware.
Statements such as “Your account will be closed soon. Click here to reactivate it.” or “A security breach has occurred. Click here to confirm your personal information.” are suspicious. If you’re being pressed to perform a certain action or asked to provide personal information that the company should already have, beware.
When was the last time your bank sent you a file as an attachment? Most financial institutions or large companies don’t send attached files. Therefore, if you receive such a message, a phone call to the institution in question could save you a lot of trouble.
The above-mentioned tips are simple things you can do before giving out any personal information. If you suspect that a message is a phishing attempt, it’s best to delete the email without clicking it. If you wish to verify its legitimacy, search for the sender’s telephone number on your own instead of using a number provided in the email. It’s better to take precautions than to be taken in hook, line and sinker!