Fake emails, or ‘phishing’ as it is also known, has been the most common choice of attack by cybercriminals for a number of years. Since cybercriminals continue to develop increasingly sophisticated phishing scams, it’s important for email users to know how to recognise fake emails.

In some cases, the emails have malicious software attached which can infect your computer with a virus, or the scammers may be seeking your personal information, such as bank details and passwords.

Step 1: Check the sender’s email address

It’s always worth checking the address that the email comes from first. This is often the quickest and easiest way of recognising whether an email is genuine or not. A scam email usually has a bizarre email address behind what looks like a genuine sender name. For example, the name may show as ‘Lloyd’s Bank’ but when you click on or hover over the name, the email address displays as ‘gy123cl345@gmail.com’.

Step 2: Check any links before clicking on them

Before you click through to a website or landing page from an email, thinking it is genuine, make sure you simply open a new tab and do a quick search for the business name. Click on their website from your search engine and then compare the URL addresses. Whether they are similar or totally different, this should give you an indication that it is a scam. it is better to try to find the page it is linking to on the legitimate website rather than clicking any email links.

For example, the link in the email may say; ‘thecompanyname.com/update-your-details’, simply find the ‘Update your Details’ page through the legitimate website and use that instead.

Step 3: Think about what they are asking you for

If you are being asked to check an important message on your account, do not log in via a link sent in an email. Open the legitimate website in your browser, log in through there and then check if there is actually a message. If it isn’t, you know the email you received is likely to be from a scammer.

This is particularly important if the email appears to be from your bank or an account that has access to any payment details. If an email is asking you to update or re-enter your personal or bank details out of the blue, it is likely going to be a scam.

If the email is asking for any kind of personal information, such as your National Insurance number, your credit card number or any other security answers you may have entered, it is safe to assume that it is likely a scam. Legitimate companies should not ask for this sensitive information via email.

Step 4: Look at spelling, grammar and design

Although cybercriminals are improving their presentation and spelling on phishing emails, sometimes you can still spot mistakes. The more common occurrence nowadays is inconsistency with the email design. This could be small or poor quality logos, inconsistent contact details (especially in the email footer), and mismatched fonts.

Step 5: If you’re still not sure

If you’re uncertain about the authenticity of an email, contact the company or brand directly via social media or their ‘contact us’ page.

Many large companies are aware of scam emails being sent out using their name, so make sure that you check the brand or company’s customer services pages to see if they mention any recent scams circulating.

For more information about SCS’s professional email solutions, contact our team today.