How to Avoid a Phishing Scam

How to Avoid a Phishing Scam

Phishing is defined as the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information such as passwords, social security numbers and account numbers. The FBI’s Crime Complaint Center reported that people lost $30 million to phishing schemes in 2017 alone and that is just one of over thirty types of internet crime that the FBI categorizes.

1) Don’t trust the display name of who the email is from.

Just because it says it’s coming from a name of a person you know or trust doesn’t mean that it truly is. Be sure to look at the email address to confirm the true sender.

2) Look but don’t click.

Hover or mouse over parts of the email without clicking on anything. If the alt text looks strange or doesn’t match what the link description says, don’t click on it.

3) Check for spelling errors.

Attackers are often less concerned about spelling or being grammatically correct than a normal sender would be.

4) Consider the salutation.

Is the address general or vague? Is the salutation to “valued customer” or Dear [insert title here]?

5) Is the email asking for personal information?

Legitimate companies are unlikely to ask for personal information in an email. In particular, the IRS periodically alerts taxpayers to, and maintains a list of, phishing schemes using the IRS name, logo or Web site clone. If you've received an e-mail, phone call or fax claiming to come from the IRS that seemed a little suspicious, you just may find it at this site:

6) Beware of urgency.

These emails might try to make it sound as if there is some sort of emergency (e.g., your child or grandchild has been in a car accident or is in legal trouble and need you to wire funds immediately. Once a wire is sent, it is nearly impossible to retrieve the funds.

7) Be careful with attachments.

Attackers like to trick you with a really juicy attachment. It might have a really long name or it might be a fake icon of Microsoft Word that isn’t the document you thought it was.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) maintains a website with known scam types and websites that you may find of interest at


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