How to Spot a Phishing Email

The time is ripe for cyber criminals and hackers to take advantage of a vulnerable workforce largely working from home. Your email inbox is probably filled with “COVID-19” subject lines and coronavirus-focused emails, but inside a lot of those emails lie viruses, malware, and other malicious material.

Some hackers are even mimicking email addresses to look like official CDC or other governmental agency email addresses and spamming inboxes. What may look like an official message could actually be fraudulent.

The problem is so serious that the FBI issued a warning in March about phishing scams.

“Look out for phishing emails asking you to verify your personal information in order to receive an economic stimulus check from the government,” the FBI alert warns. “While talk of economic stimulus checks has been in the news cycle, government agencies are not sending unsolicited emails seeking your private information in order to send you money.”

So how can you tell a phishing email from a legitimate one? Here are a few telltale signs, from our IT company CoreTech:

  • Look closely at the e-mail address to make sure it’s spelled correctly.
  • Hover over any links in the email (but DON’T CLICK) to see the ACTUAL website you’ll be directed to. If there’s a mismatched or suspicious URL, delete the email immediately.
  • Watch for poor grammar and spelling errors.
  • Never download an attachment unless you know who sent it and what it is.

Cyber criminals will continue to get more and more creative and find ways to look as real as possible. Whether you’re working from home or not, it’s important to always be vigilant and watch for potential email scams.

While your focus on these might be heightened right now because of the climate we’re living and working in, be mindful that criminals will also look to take advantage when life returns back to “normal” and your guard might be down. Maintain the practices you develop now going forward.

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