You may have heard of the term ‘phishing’, but despite what you may think, there are no rods or worms involved, at least not the physical kind. Phishing emails are pesky critters which are getting more and more sophisticated – leaving you or your business open to hacking, data theft or a shutdown of your systems. Knowing how to spot phishing emails and what to look out for can help protect your personal information and stop you becoming a victim of fraud.

Things to look out for in phishing emails

Check the sender

Fraudsters are becoming cleverer at masking their addresses to make it look as though emails are coming from a legitimate source. However, a quick check of the sender by clicking ‘from’ will usually show a random address baring little or no relation to who the email claims to be from – examples include info@appleinfo.org, info@yourapplehelp.edu, etc. A simple Google of the business claiming to email you will show what the correct address should be.

Check the links but DO NOT CLICK

As with the sender, the links contained in an email are often a giveaway. Easily hidden by a hyperlink, you can hover over the link to find out where it really leads. If it’s not straightforward – do not trust it.

Keep an eye out for bad spelling and grammar

These can be a big giveaway. Read the email carefully – if it’s littered with mistakes then it’s likely to be a phishing scam. Many of these emails are translated from another language, so if it reads like it has been Google Translated – stick it straight in the trash.

It asks you for money or personal information

The main aim of phishing scams is to get you to enter your personal details to be able to hack into your online accounts, or to get your bank details to steal money from you. Reputable companies will never ask for your details in this way. It’s always worth calling the company if you’re unsure of the email’s origins.

Query the circumstances

Sometimes you’ll receive emails saying that you’ve won something, that your request for something has been accepted or that a loan has been approved. No memory of making these entries? Then the emails are most likely to be phishing scams.

The email seems too good to be true

Been told of a windfall? An unexpected tax rebate? These sorts of promises sound too good to be true, and they most likely are. Unless you’ve signed up to receive HMRC emails, you’ll be told of rebates by post. Any email asking you for bank details to initiate a transfer should also be met with caution – anyone refunding you for something should already have the relevant details.

The easiest way to avoid phishing emails

Despite all the tips and tricks to spot them, even the savviest of us can become victims. The easiest way to avoid them is to invest in useful spam software like Mailcleaner. Easy to download and install, having the right mail cleaner on your side will help keep your personal data safe, with peace of mind that you’re protected against even the most elusive of phishing emails.