Tech corner

How to recognise and avoid phishing scams

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Phishing scams are getting more and more common these days, and they’re also getting harder to spot. We’ve compiled a list of top tips on how to avoid getting scammed by being aware of the main signs of a phishing email.

Phishing scams are getting more and more common these days, and they’re also getting harder to spot. We’ve compiled a list of top tips on how to avoid getting scammed by being aware of the main signs of a phishing email.

Always check the sender

You should always double-check the "From" address of any suspicious email, as some phishing attempts are known to use a sender's email address that is similar to a company's official email address, but with a sneaky change somewhere in there that you can catch them out with.

 

Be wary of what you’re being asked to send out

If you receive an email or an instant message from someone you’re not familiar with that directs you to sign in to a website, always be alert, especially if the message is urging you to give up your password or other sensitive information. Trusted companies never ask for this information via instant message or email, so this is a huge red flag.

Your bank would never need you to send them your account number, as they already have that information – the same goes for your credit card number or the answer to a security question.

 

Check any suspicious emails for spelling mistakes

It's extremely unlikely that a well-known, successful company would send messages to its customer base without going through a few rigorous rounds of spelling and grammar checks, editing and proofreading. If you receive an email riddled with these errors, it's more than likely going to be a scam.

You should also be cautious of generic greetings like, "Dear Customer" or "Dear Member." Most companies would use your name in their email greetings, as they will have it on file.

 

Don’t click on links if you’re wary

Phishing scams typically try to convince you to provide them with your username and password so that they can easily gain access to your online accounts. Once they have that information from you, they can empty your bank accounts, make charges on your credit cards, steal your data, read your emails and lock you out of your social media.

Often, they'll include embedded URLs that take you to a different site. If you hover your cursor over the URL and the hyperlink that shows up is different to the one that they’ve written down, never click on the link. Instead, open a new tab and go directly to their website by typing it into the address bar, so you know that it's safe to enter your information.

 

Watch out for threatening language

Intimidation tactics are becoming much more common than the promise of "instant riches" when it comes to online scams, aiming to take advantage of anxiety and get you to provide your personal information.

Language like "Urgent action required!" "Your account will be closed!" and "Your account has been compromised!" should always be classed as a red flag, as it’s likely your bank would contact you more directly if there was a serious problem. Never hesitate to call your bank or financial institution to confirm if something doesn't seem right.

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