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How to Spot Phishing Schemes and Email Scams

June 26, 2014

How to Spot Phishing Schemes and Email ScamsPhishing schemes and email scams can cost you and your company thousands of dollars. It’s a never ending game of cat and mouse. Do you know how to recognize a scam or phishing scheme when it arrives in your inbox? Below are some simple rules of thumb to steer clear of getting caught in the trap.

  1. Scam emails have a story to tell. Does the email mention an “oil well” somewhere, or the “cash advance” you need to make before you get the big payout? Quickly find the delete button and click it.

  2. Phishing emails typically have a one-liner. "Follow the link below to change your password” or “Login to obtain the test results” or “Download from Dropbox." These emails typically leave you with a feeling that you want to know more. Once again, quickly locate the delete button and click it.

  3. Look for weird URLs. If you see all numbers as in "http://66.52.142.2/special-document.zip" then you can assume it’s a scam.  Good URLs typically look like “http://www.somecompany.com/somepage.html”. These can still be masked and used maliciously so use rule #4 below.

  4. Get into a habit of pro-actively rating the email messages you receive. Take for example a phishing one-liner email with a "good" URL. The rating might go as such:

    a. It's a message you weren't expecting with body copy that left you asking questions, give it a minus one (-1).

    b. It’s from a known sender, give it a +1.  

    c. It contains a link you never discussed or requested, give it a -1.

    d. The email does not have a contact information, company name, phone number or address, give it a -1. Do you have a signature in your email? Consider adding one now.

    e. If the final tally is in the negative, delete it.

For more tips on IT Solutions and other articles from HCSS visit: blog.hcss.com

Femi is new to the HCSS IT team and holds the role of IT Manager. Our in-house IT team manages our infrastructure and also provide support to our Call Center staff on various client requests. Femi loves technology and strives to stay atop of new innovations, gadgets and tools. 

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