Profile of a Phishing Scam

by Barbara J. Feldman on January 28, 2008

One of the most popular online frauds is a phishing fraud. What happens here is that the people running this fraud usually send you an email from a website that you normally trust, such as PayPal, your bank, credit card companies, etc. In the email they tell you that your account information needs to be verified or the account will be closed or you need to update your account info. Many times the email will include a link that will take you to a authentic looking website for you to enter in your information. Most of the information they are asking for is personal and can be used to steal your identity. One of the worst things about the phishing scam is that the emails all look very legitimate and sometimes it is actually really hard to tell if the email is a scam or if it is a legitimate email. But the good news is that there are things that you can do to recognize phishing so that you don’t become a victim.

Here are some things that you can use to see if the email is a phishing scam or if it is legit.

Tip One:

If you do not have an account with the company that is sending the email and they are telling you that your account needs to be updated then it is obviously an online scam or fraud. So you need to watch to see what companies the emails are coming from.

Tip Two:

Another thing that you need to look at is how the emails are being addressed to you and what they are asking for. More often than not a company that you have open accounts with is not going to address you as “customer” but they are going to address you by your last name at least because they will want to personalize the email. But they also won’t ask for personal information online. If they feel your account needs to be updated they will contact you some other way such as telephone or sending you a form through the mail.

Tip Three:

You also need to pay close attention to the addresses that are being included in the email. Many times the email address that is being used to send the email to you is from an unidentifiable source and all legit companies are going to use an identifiable source when sending you emails. Also you need to check the source code, this is actually critical in recognizing phishing. Usually what happens is that they show you one address but are actually using a different address and if you don’t check to see that both addresses match then you won’t notice that it is actually two different addresses.

Tip Four:

The next thing that you need to look for is if there is a sense of urgency to the email, meaning does it give you a time frame to respond by. Basically what this is trying to get you to do is to respond to the email quickly; they are hoping to catch you off guard, basically to get you to respond with out thinking. These are just useless threats and if you are paying attention you won’t fall victim to them.

Tip Five:

Another giveaway that the email is a phishing scam rather than a legitimate email is that there are major mechanical, spelling and grammar errors. Many times words will be misspelled slightly; there might be two “e’s” in a word that is only supposed to have one letter “e”. You can also look for characters in the wrong place. For example you can have three semicolons between phrases when there shouldn’t be any. Or the structure of the sentence is wrong. The reason that this can help you figure out if it’s a phishing email is because many times these scams are created by people who do not speak English so they get things mixed up. But legitimate companies are also going to use proofreaders to avoid these kinds of mistakes.

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Cite This Page

Feldman, Barbara. "Profile of a Phishing Scam." Surfnetkids. Feldman Publishing. 28 Jan. 2008. Web. 16 Oct. 2014. <http://www.surfnetkids.com/tech/1291/profile-of-a-phishing-scam/ >.