How to Recognise and Avoid Online Scams

What are the risks?

Phishing' is the most common scam used by hackers. Phishing is a scam that tricks you into giving your email address and password to an online scammer.

Phishing is not new  – in fact, Phishing is the most common type of online attack and has been for years, but despite how long scam emails have been around, people still frequently fall victim to them. The complexity of Phishing scams is ever-increasing, so knowing how to spot phishing emails is more important than ever before.

A study by PhishingBox reports that 36% of all data breaches involve Phishing, and 86% of breaches were financially motivated, with 28% of breaches involving small businesses.

So now we know the risk, what can we do to keep ourselves and our information safe?

Code displayed on a monitor with glasses in front of it



1. Be vigilant of spelling and grammar mistakes. 

One simple way to spot a phishing email is bad grammar and spelling mistakes. Most larger companies like banks or online shopping services will have spell-checking tools to use on outgoing emails to ensure their emails are grammatically correct.

So if an email has lots of simple spelling mistakes or incorrect grammar, be wary!

2. Check the email address, and check it again.

An official email from a legitimate company will not use a public domain, or for example. Even if the email looks official, it will not be. 

Check the Email Address for spelling errors also. Some clever scammers will create an email address that is close to the real one, hoping that you will not notice!

3. Emails with Unprofessional Language

Depending on the situation, you may be able to spot a scam email by their language choice. For example, HSBC would not use 'Hey There' as a greeting, It would be considerably more formal. If you have consistent contact with a company, and you receive an unusual Email that does not seem to for in with your other correspondences with them, it could be a scam email. 

If you notice this but are not sure about the legitimacy of the email, use the other points to check further!

4. Emails Requesting Passwods, Payment Information or Sensitive Data

No company, big or small, will request your log in details over email. Be wary of receiving an unexpected email from a company asking you to follow a link and log in- "Spear phishers" can forge login pages to look similar to the real thing and send an email containing a link that directs the recipient to the fake page.

Some exceptions apply, for example, if you have contacted their help desk for password assistance, even so, proceed with caution. 

5. Urgent or Pushy Emails

Avoid any email that is pushing you to take fast action. Scammers will often try to fluster you into giving over your information. Any legitimate organisation will not give you a short time scale to complete an action. 

If you receive an email asking you to do something urgently to avoid something bad happening, it is probably a scam! 

6. Too Good to Be True Emails

If it looks too good to be true, it probably is! 

If an email is incentivising you in any way to open a link or engage in conversation, avoid engaging with that email, unless you are sure it is legitimate. 


Published: 29/07/2022 Published by: WJPS

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