Ah, email. If you’re like many, you have a love/hate relationship with this decades-old form of personal, workplace and retail communication. Recent surveys suggest a majority working-age adults are stressed out and overwhelmed by the pressure to read and respond to messages piling up in their inboxes.
Well, I regret to say there’s more to worry about than being bombarded with messages. Fraudsters are adding to the stress by using sophisticated scams—commonly referred to as phishing—designed to get access to your personal data and or financial resources.
Before I break down ways to spot such scams, let’s quickly review the types of phishing attacks security experts agree are most common:
Types of Phishing Attacks
- Bulk Phishing – These common attacks often make false promises about winning a prize or qualifying for a refund. Scammers send messages to large numbers of recipients with the expectation at least some will take the bait.
- Spear Phishing – This is a much more targeted and sophisticated attack. The scammers already have the victim’s personal information, which they use to create messages that appear authentic and lull targets into clicking on links or taking other actions.
- Clone Phishing – In this form of particularly deceptive phishing, the attacker copies the contents of a legitimate message the target has already received and replaces the original links in the message with harmful ones leading to a fake website. These scams are harder to spot and the cybercriminal will need to already have the victim’s login credentials in their possession.
All of these scams sound scary, I know. But there are a few things to look for that can help you avoid becoming a victim. Let’s highlight some scam email red flags using the following example:
Hopefully, the information and example I’ve shared helps you better understand how to spot bogus email messages. If you see messages in your inbox that look suspicious, it’s best to simply delete, block and (if possible) report. Not only will doing so reduce your risk of being scammed, you’ll also put a dent in that mountain of messages waiting in your inbox.