1. Check the Sender
When you receive an email, be sure to look at the sender’s name and address. Be cautious of emails from senders without recognizable names or with strange email addresses. Legitimate companies will contact their customers and employees through familiar or corporate domain accounts.
2. Review the Urgency & Tone
Phishing emails tend to have a sense of urgency or pressure to act quickly; this is done to prompt recipients into taking action before they can think critically about it. Use caution if you come across an email that has any type of urgency associated with it such as “act now!” or “you must respond within 48 hours!” Similarly, watch out for emails with an overly aggressive or friendly tone.
3. Inspect the Links
Hover over any links included in the email and check to make sure that the URL is legitimate. Be wary of URLs with misspellings, trailing characters, multiple periods, long strings of letters and numbers, and unfamiliar domain names such as .biz or .info. If possible, use a tool like URLUncover to scan for malicious links before clicking on them.
4. Look Out For Poor Grammar & Spellings
Phishing emails often contain poor grammar and spelling errors due to their rushed nature. Legitimate companies will take care to ensure their emails are written clearly and correctly so be sure to look out for signs of sloppiness when reviewing emails.
5. Be Wary of Sensitive Requests
Never give out personal information or account credentials via email, even if it appears to be coming from a trusted source. Any requests for confidential data such as passwords, credit card numbers, or bank accounts should be considered suspicious and handled with caution.
6. Scan Attachments With Care
Be mindful of any attachments included in the email—they may contain malicious software designed to steal your data or hijack your computer’s resources. Before opening an attachment, make sure that it comes from a secure and legitimate source by scanning the file using anti-malware software or checking its digital signature (if available).
7. Use Multifactor Authentication
The best way to protect yourself from phishing attacks is to use multifactor authentication (MFA) whenever possible. MFA requires more than one form of identification—such as a password, biometric scan, or SMS code—in order to access an account. This extra layer of security helps ensure that only authorized users can gain access, even if their credentials are stolen by a malicious actor.
By following these seven tips, you can effectively recognize and avoid phishing emails. Always be sure to think critically about any suspicious emails and take the necessary steps to protect your data. Remember: when in doubt, throw it out!