Phishing is a scam where criminals send out emails pretending to come from banks, credit card companies, retailers, utility companies, eBay and others. They usually try to trick you into going to their website which will be a copy of the real company website but will steal your login and password and/or other personal details.
They trick you by making the email look genuine and urgent or important. It might say “your account is locked” or “there has been suspicious activity on your account” or “your password must be changed” or something similar. Anything to catch your eye and make you do what they want you to.
Fake emails can be difficult to spot sometimes, but there are things to look out for:-
- The sender’s email address is different from the trusted organisation’s website address. E.g. an email supposedly from Barclays bank but the email address is firstname.lastname@example.org
- The email is sent from a completely different address or a free webmail address such as Hotmail, Yahoo mail, Google mail etc. Companies never send out email from these kind of addresses. .
- The email does not use your proper name, but uses a general greeting such as “Dear Sir or Madam, or Dear customer.”
- A sense of urgency; for example the threat that unless you act immediately your account may be closed.
- A request for personal information such as username, password or bank details.
If in doubt, do not click on any links in the email – contact the company or go to the company website and check your account or just delete the message.