How to Spot a Phishing Attack

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The average American knows very little about cybersecurity and is vulnerable to online scams, a study shows
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Phishing is a digital crime where cybercriminals aim to steal your private information. Scammers deploy their attack by disguising themselves as trusted organizations or entities to trick you into mindlessly handing over details like your social security number, credit card information, bank credentials, and more.

However, sometimes scammers aren’t as clever as they think, and attackers make basic errors that targets can easily spot– if they know where to look. 

Here are some ways you can spot a phishing scam:

There are basic writing errors

Whether the organization is big or small, basic miscommunications may occur. However, that is not likely to extend to more significant mistakes like spelling, grammatical, or other blatant errors. 

If you see multiple mistakes in a message requesting identifying information, that may be a telltale sign that you are dealing with a cybercriminal deploying a phishing attack.

The URL isn’t quite right

Phishing always requires the victim to click something in the email– an attachment or link, for example. Often, phishing URLs are variations of a familiar URL but are slightly off, meaning that there is suddenly a number at the end, so instead of “info.com,” it will say “info1.com.”

If you cannot see the entire URL, do not click it. Instead, hover over the link with your mouse to preview the full address. If you realize that the link is suspicious, do not interact with it.  

The message reads as urgent 

Messages that claim to be urgent or ask you to act fast may be phishing scams. Some of these messages may even urge you to respond within minutes. Other phishing messages claim that you need to act now or risk getting a real account suspended. 

Most reliable companies offer ample time for you to get your affairs in order. However, it is best to ignore such messages as this is a favorite method for cybercriminals. When in doubt, contact the source directly to clarify the matter instead of interacting with the potentially fraudulent message. 

You get an offer you can’t refuse

If the message is too good to be true, like a lucrative offer or attention-grabbing statement like “get your free phone now!” that could also be a sign that you are the target of a phishing scam. 

The goal is to grab your attention enough that you can’t help but click. However, offers that sound too good to be true usually are just that– too good to be true.

Final thoughts

The best way to avoid phishing scams is through educating yourself. You should always be aware of who you give your personal information to. Your social security number, credit card information, log-in credentials, and anything else that should be private needs to be very carefully distributed– especially when using the internet. The more warry you are, the better protected you will be.

Confidently err on the side of caution!

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Mahesh is leading digital marketing initiatives at RecentlyHeard, a NewsFeed platform that covers news from all sectors. He develops, manages, and executes digital strategies to increase online visibility, better reach target audiences, and create engaging experience across channels. With 7+ years of experience, He is skilled in search engine optimization, content marketing, social media marketing, and advertising, and analytics.