How to Spot Phishing Email or Email Scams

Email scams are common and mostly target adults and people with little or no digital skillset. The phishing scammers use strategies like lottery winning, inheritance of African prince bait, or India’s PayPal and Amazon customer centre scam.

According to Earthweb, “3.4 billion phishing emails are sent each day, worldwide”. This trend is expected to increase as email exchange increases with advanced technology over time.

Regardless of awareness of phishing or email scams, people still fall victim to these scams.

So what is phishing or email scam?

Phishing is a cybercrime. The scammers send emails to the target audience pretending to be reputable companies with the sole objective to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as password, credit card information, date of birth, postcode, social security number, etc

The fraudsters’ strategy is simple, they send correspondences pretending to be your bank, your service provider. To make this look legal, they clone your real service provider’s website and email template.

How to Spot  Phishing or Email Scams
Phishing or email scam impersonating US Immigration

When you click the link in the email, it takes you to the cloned website, and requests you to log in or fill out a form to collect your personal information.

cloned link display fake website
When i clicked the special offer it redirected me to this page

How to spot phishing or email scams

spotting phishing can be tricky, the criminals are getting more sophisticated. It takes due diligence, self-awareness and continuous education to spot email scams.

Check the sender’s domain name

Every website has a unique identity and that is the domain name. Examples of domain names include apple.com, google.com, and microsoft.com.

Most email scams impersonate existing companies so expect a cloned email with funny extensions on the original domain name.

 a cloned email with funny extensions
This website impersonated a delivery company.

Avoid emails requesting you to reset your password

No company will send you an email for a password reset without you initiating the process.

For example, in case you forget your password, you will go to the login page, click forgot password button, and your email address will be requested to verify if you have an active account with the company before a password reset is automatically generated and sent to your email.

When you receive an email requesting you to reset your password without initiating it, please report it as spam, block the email if you can then delete it.

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Avoid emails from African Prince

I know this is a popular email scam, yet people still fall victim to it.

If you receive an email from an unknown African prince or one Mr Kunga, a minister of the mineral resources department about $800 million dollars belonging to one late king.

sample of inheritance email from Africa

please beware. These are baits so don’t fall for them

Double-check when you receive an email from an unknown sender with a public email domain

No corporate company will send you an email via a public domain like gmail.com, yahoo.co.uk etc.

When someone like Mrs Evelyn George, the regional bank auditor of BOA Bank Abidjan-Ivory Coast sends a mail using [email protected] emails like these are mostly scams.

email from an unknown sender using a public email domain

However, not all public email domains are scams. Some small businesses still use [email protected] This is not advisable but it’s still a practice among some startups and small businesses.

Beware of unfamiliar investment and pension emails

According to FCA UK, the most searched for investment and pension scams include cryptocurrency, binary options, foreign exchange, shares, pension review, pension loan/liberation etc.

If you receive an unexpected investment offers email from unexpected contact with unrealistic investment returns, and a persuasive and pressured tone, chances are high that such offers are scams.

Beware, cryptocurrency scammers are out there to steal your digital wallet. Fraudsters send emails with malicious links to a fake or cloned website to extract personal details, such as cryptocurrency wallet key information.

Beware of suspicious emails with attachments

Scammers sometimes attach malware to emails sent to you. Before clicking any link in any mail, ensure it is a genuine website.

clicking malware links:

  • can install malware on your device
  • can give hackers access to your device.
  • may give hackers access steal information from your device
  • can give hackers access to your device location, your data, and your contact

Emails with typography errors are likely scams

When you receive an email with spelling errors or unformatted paragraphs, this is a sign of potential phishing. Avoid such emails.

How to protect yourself from phishing bait.

  • Set up 2-factor authentication on all your accounts. This gives you second-level security.
  • Check the domain name first. Most scammers use funny or unusual domain names.
  • Take a second look before clicking links in any email.
  • Block or report suspicious sender.
  • unsubscribe from any newsletter if you can’t remember you ever subscribed.
  • Never fill out a form requesting your details, bank information, postcode, or any sensitive data.

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