How to Recognize Phishing

Written by matt goetz
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How to Recognize Phishing
Recognise phishing scams. (computer image by blaine stiger from Fotolia.com)

Fraud and identity theft problems continue to grow on the Internet, including the most common phishing scam. Phishing scams usually come in the form of e-mail, which are used for the purposes of stealing someone's personal information and identity. Thieves and scam artists use phishing tactics to steal Social Security numbers and credit-card and bank-account information. In a phishing scam, the victim unknowingly enters his login or personal information into the website disguised as a legitimate site. You can safeguard yourself against phishing scams by identifying the culprit.

Skill level:
Easy

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Open suspicious e-mail and look for poorly written sentences, bad grammar and misspelled words, which likely indicate a phishing scam. The email might appear authentic and identical to a website you use, but inspecting the text often reveals the scam.

  2. 2

    Inspect the overall layout of the email and pay attention to possible formatting errors including missing spaces between paragraphs, or over-spacing between paragraphs and words. Advertisers and legitimate companies do not allow obvious and unprofessional formatting errors within customer e-mail.

  3. 3

    Read the name of the company or product mentioned, and check the email address at the top of the message. If you're not a customer or an account holder, you have probably received an attempted phishing scam. A phishing scam also usually shows an unidentifiable source for the email.

  4. 4

    Read the email content. Most phishing scams pose as authentic websites and ask you to log into your account to update your contact information. The message may also contain threats for account termination or suspension, if you don't log in to your account and update credit-card and contact information.

  5. 5

    Check the source code of the email message. Right click your mouse or laptop, and select "view source" midway down the list of options. The email address noted in the actual e-mail should also match the email listed in the source code. Phishing e-mail uses two different e-mail addresses, with the secondary address usually masked and hidden within the code.

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