By Martin 12 Jun 2020
One of the first things we recommend checking in an email is the integrity of any web links within. Often the web link in a phishing message will appear to be perfectly valid. However, if you hover your mouse over the top of the web link, you should see the actual address. If the address is different from the address that is displayed, the message is probably malicious.
People who launch phishing scams often depend on their victims not knowing how the DNS naming structure for domains works. The last part of a domain name is the most telling. For example, the domain name shop.anglianinternet.co.uk would be a child domain of anglianinternet.co.uk because anglianinternet.co.uk appears at the end of the full domain name (on the right-hand side). Conversely, anglianinternet.co.uk.scamdomain.co.uk would clearly not have originated from anglianinternet.co.uk because the reference to anglianinternet.co.uk is on the left side of the domain name.
We have seen this trick used countless times by phishing artists as a way of trying to convince victims that a message came from a company like Microsoft or Apple. The phishing artist simply creates a child domain bearing the name Microsoft, Apple, or whatever.
Whenever a large company sends out a message on behalf of the company the message is usually reviewed for spelling, grammar, and legality, among other things. So, if a message is filled with poor grammar or spelling mistakes, it probably didn't come from a major corporation's legal department.
No matter how official an email message might look, it's always a bad sign if the message asks for personal details. Your bank doesn't need you to send it your account number. It already knows. Similarly, a reputable company should never send an email asking for your password, credit card number, or the answer to a security question.
There is an old saying that if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. That holds especially true for email messages. If you receive a message from someone unknown to you who is making big promises, the message is probably a scam.
If you get a message informing you that you have won a contest you did not enter, you can bet that the message is a scam.
One tell-tale sign of a phishing email is that you will eventually be asked for money. You might not get hit up for cash in the initial message. But sooner or later, phishing artists will likely ask for money to cover expenses, taxes, fees, or something similar. If that happens, you can bet that it's a scam.
Although most of the phishing scams try to trick people into giving up cash or sensitive information by promising instant riches, some phishing artists use intimidation to scare victims into giving up information. If a message makes unrealistic threats, it's probably a scam.
Phishing artists who want to use intimidation don't always pose as a bank. Sometimes they'll send messages claiming to have come from a law enforcement agency, the MI5, or just about any other entity that might scare the average law-abiding citizen.
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