How to Spot a Phishing Email

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Contrary to popular belief, it’s not just Gen X’ers and Millennials who are plugged in to today’s Internet-driven technologies. Baby Boomers – born between the late 1940s and mid-1960s – represent more than a third of all Internet users, according to a Nielsen study. 

How to Spot a Phishing Email

And although boomers have become pretty savvy when it comes to their Internet use, they risk falling victim to various identity theft scams. Below are a few fresh and informative tips that, as a savvy boomer, you can follow to keep your yourself and your identity safe.

Spotting Red Flags

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 16.6 million people in the U.S. found themselves the victim of at least one identity theft incident. Many of these incidents come as the result of phishing, the act of sending fake emails or instant messages aimed at convincing users to submit private information, such as bank account and credit card numbers. With phishing on the rise, it’s more important than ever to protect yourself properly from emerging threats. Here are a few red flags that boomers should look out for as they check their emails:

The email and its links feature a misleading domain name – Most boomers might not notice a slightly tweaked URL in the sender’s email address or in any of the links within the email. For instance, a phisher may try to make part of their domain name appear as close to the official version as possible (e.g. Microsoft.baddomain.com vs. microsoft.com). Some phishing attempts use a redirecting URL on top of a seemingly legit link as a cover. In most cases, simply hovering over the link can reveal the URL’s true destination.

The message contains threats to your account status – Many phishing attempts feature urgent messages that not only tell you that your account is in jeopardy, but threaten suspension or deletion unless it’s confirmed or verified with your personal or account information. Another phishing tactic involves a fake email warning of a recent unauthorized access attempt, with a request to validate the account using your personal information.

Legitimate banks, government agencies and other institutions won’t threaten account closure over ID verification, nor will they require you enter your name, account number, password and Social Security number via email. If an email requests two forms of ID or any other information that could possibly compromise your identity, chances are it’s a phishing attempt.

The message comes from someone you haven’t done business with before – If you receive an official sounding e-mail about an account, but you’ve never done business with that company, chances are it's a phishing attempt.

Trust Your Gut

If something tells you that an e-mail is potentially suspicious, go with your gut feeling. It’s better to be on the safe side than fall victim to identity theft. When in doubt, simply delete the message.

As On Guard Online’s phishing guide notes, there are several other steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. In addition to reviewing credit card statements for unauthorized charges, you can also forward phishing emails to several organizations dedicated fighting phishing. These organizations include the Anti-Phishing Working Group and the Federal Trade Commission.


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*by andreascy*