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How to spot phishing emails and avoid being scammed

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The technique known as “phishing” is used by internet crooks to try to steal the web users’ identity or personal data (passwords, bank details, social security number, etc.), via fraudulent emails with links to fake or compromised websites. Here are a few things to keep in mind when opening emails to avoid falling victim to phishing scams.

The scammers’ aim is to fraudulently collect data by contacting users, pretending that there’s some kind of problem or that one of their bank or other accounts is about to expire. This often involves emails inviting web users to fill out a form, tricking them into handing over confidential information to crooks.

The most common scams involve emails that use the graphics and logos of well-known, legitimate websites or businesses, containing a link that sends users to a fake website, reproduced convincingly and almost identically.

Security specialists such as Ivanti frequently warn both home and business users about the dangers of phishing. Users should always be vigilant when opening suspicious emails.

For example, bear in mind that legal and official information is always sent by postal mail, never by email, especially in the case of bank documents. Plus, legitimate sources never ask their subscribers or customers to send information by email or to purposely change their password.

Watch out for anything suspicious in emails, such as the over-use of punctuation, lots of spelling errors or typos, or strange logos.

Finally, perhaps the most important thing is to take a close look at the email address and the sender to assess their authenticity. Also, hover over hypertext links with the mouse cursor to inspect them fully before clicking on anything. This can be very revealing and is a good way of evaluating risk.

If you’re still unsure, don’t click on any links and don’t hesitate to contact the establishment in question to find out if they genuinely sent you the email. Above all, keep your wits about you, especially with emails promising something that sounds too good to be true.

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