How To Spot Fake Emails

By Savvy Cyber Kids July 9, 2020

The two most frequently used methods for hacking a company and stealing their information over the past year were phishing and the use of stolen credentials (think user IDs and passwords).

Both methods actually go hand-in-hand. A hacker, utilizing social engineering techniques will send a specially crafted email that pretends to be from a company you do business with. In the fake email, the hacker will include some wording to make you believe that your account has been hacked (the irony!), and say that you need to click the included link to reset your password.

Another method commonly used is crafting an email that purports to be from Amazon, UPS, or FedEx that has you click on a link to get the latest tracking information on your recent purchase. Since we are all shopping online, it is understandable why someone may fall for that trick. Unless, of course, you teach your employees or family members how to spot a fake email.

If something is making headlines, it will make its way into a hacker’s toolbox!

How To Spot a Fake Email

Let’s talk about some red flags in phishing emails.

  1. When you get an email that asks you to click on the included link to do anything. This is kind of tricky because we all send emails with links in them, especially when we are trying to share something we think would be beneficial to others. Don’t click on the link!
  2. Look for wording that indicates immediacy. For example urgent, now, immediately, etc. Take a deep breath and think about someone trying to trick you!
  3. Look at the email sender’s address for misspelling or wrong addresses. For example, an email from Amazon.com would be [email protected]. Not, [email protected]. Sometimes you need to move your cursor over the top of the email address or tap on an email address to see the full email address.
  4. Just like with the email address, investigate the link address by moving your cursor over the top of the link address to reveal the true link address (this works best on a computer as compared to a mobile device).
  5. There will probably be misspellings and broken English. This may not always be the case, but most fake emails fall into this category.
  6. There may be an attachment. Don’t open the attachment!

What do you do if you think an email may be legitimate? Go to the company’s website and log in to your account to see if you have any messages. Remember, don’t click the links or open attachments from the email. And if the email is from a friend, reach out to see if it’s legitimate.

Now that you know how to spot fake emails, you should be able to spot any red flags in emails in your inbox. You may just save yourself from being the next hacking victim.

Source: 2020 Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)

 

Savvy Cyber Kids educates and empowers digital citizens, from parents and grandparents to teachers and students. Sign up for their free resources to help you navigate today’s digital world with cyber ethics.

Savvy Cyber Kids

Ben Halpert is the Founder of Savvy Cyber Kids, an EarthLink partner. Since 2007, Savvy Cyber Kids has provided resources for families and teachers to empower and educate children in a world surrounded by technology. They teach today’s youth — from preschool to high school age — how to remain safe and be empowered to make appropriate decisions in the online world. Check out their free resources: savvycyberkids.org

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