5 Telltale Signs of a Phishing Scam

The world relies heavily on the internet for almost everything nowadays, preferring to pretend that something like a phishing scam won’t hurt them. We order food, go shopping, store banking data, reserve hotels, and even buy cars online. It’s so much more convenient than in-person interaction.

Unfortunately, that convenience is costly—particularly to businesses. Our overreliance on the internet leaves enterprises vulnerable to attacks by cybercriminals.

These criminals find all sorts of creative ways to steal company data, but one of their most common techniques is phishing. The scammers trick internet users into divulging private information, such as account information, passwords, and ultimately, money.

Perhaps you’re perceptive enough to recognize a phishing scam before it happens, but can you say the same for your employees and customers? In this day and age, anybody can fall victim to these cyberattacks.

By knowing the signs, you and your employees are less likely to be hoodwinked into sharing your data. Read on to find out the five most common phishing scams and their solutions.

Deceptive Phishing

Deceptive phishing is the most common type of phishing. With this scam, the attacker poses as an organization or person you know and trust. Most attacks start with an email from a presumably trustworthy source. The criminals adopt the company logo and other details to make their emails seem more convincing.

If you become a victim to a deceptive phishing scam, it’s probably because of the email’s sense of urgency. You’ll be asked to perform a task ASAP, or else you stand to lose a great deal.

The assignment could be anything from verifying your login details to updating your bank account details or logging in to the website so you can claim an exciting award. As soon as you key in your details, cybercriminals have unauthorized entry into your accounts.

Always double-check suspicious emails for spelling errors or mismatched URLs. Moreover, make it a habit to withhold sensitive information from unknown websites. If an email purporting to be from PayPal requires you to log in, for instance, visit the PayPal website and log in from there. Your vigilance will serve you well.

Spear Phishing

Spear phishing is a personalized form of deceptive phishing. Here, the attacker first carries out extensive research on your organization before sending you an email. They will pose as someone you regularly interact with or an organization you legitimately expect to reach out to you via email, like your bank.

Like deceptive phishing, spear phishing aims to get sensitive data from you without arousing suspicion. There’s only one key difference: spear phishers spent considerable time acquiring your company’s details. They are personally hunting you, not a wide range of targets. Because of this, their attempts are more likely to succeed.

To make sure your company doesn’t fall prey to spear phishing, you should encourage employees to share private information through sources besides email. Train them to double-check with your organization before sharing details with supposedly credible sources.

Social Media Phishing Scam

A social media phisher approaches the prey on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter. These forums are ideal for phishers because people and companies tend to share personal information liberally. This enables the criminals to craft a fake product to catch the prey’s attention.

Usually, they will send you a message about how you can win a promotion or other deal by clicking on a link. The link then leads you to a website that requires you to put in some sensitive information. By the time you click ‘log in,’ the scammers are ready to steal from you.

You can avoid being a victim of social media phishing by enhancing your privacy and declining strangers’ friend requests. Avoid clicking on unknown links and recognize that products online are not always what they seem.

File-Sharing Phishing Scam

The file-sharing scam is one of the most successful types of phishing. Typically, you will receive a notification that someone has sent you a file via Google Docs, Box, DropBox, or other file sharing software. The attacker may even use the name of a person you know. Once you click on the link to see the message, you get directed to a site that resembles the legitimate software, where you log in and proceed to open the file. That is how the scammers obtain your login information.

Before you open any shared documents, ensure that you know the sender. If anything arouses your suspicion, stay cautious and confirm the source of the file before clicking on it.


Although most types of phishing occur via email, phishers sometimes attack via calls. You can tell that a caller is not genuine if they start asking for personal information. However, some deceptive phishers could pose like someone from your IT department looking to resolve a computer issue. Mostly, they use jargon to confuse you and trick you into giving out information. 

As long as a caller asks for sensitive info, always regard that as suspicious and hang up. 

The Best Way to Avoid Phishing Scams

You may have noticed that our common recommendation to phishing is just hypervigilance. For most people, the only way to avoid the scams is to be aware of them and ignore them when they appear.

But if you or your company is consistently getting an onslaught of phishing attempts, one is likely to slip through the cracks. You can’t be 100% vigilant all the time, and you certainly can’t force your employees to, either.

Because of that, your best chance actually lies in preemptive security upgrades. Contact a managed service provider like this IT company in Cambridge to manage your cybersecurity needs. Their experts will intercept the scams so you don’t have to worry about them affecting your company again.