October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, but avoiding cybercrime requires year-round vigilance.
Email phishing attacks are the most frequent threat, as you've probably noticed by looking at your inbox. Unfortunately, these scams are becoming more advanced and sophisticated. Fraudulent emails can be so convincing that it's hard to tell them from the real thing.
Now's the time to review the 7 Tips to Avoid Phishing Scams below and put them into practice so you don't become a victim.
1. Compare the sender's name with the email domain. Except for some small businesses, companies usually have their own email domain and company accounts. For example, emails sent from FrankCrum will read ‘@frankcrum.com.' If the domain doesn't match the sender, be suspicious.
2. Check to see if the domain is spelled correctly. A hacker might buy a domain similar to a company name but is off by a letter or two. For example, instead of '@FrankCrum,' they might use ‘@Frankcurm.com.' A misspelled domain is a tell-tale sign of fraud.
3. Look for grammar errors in the email. Scam artists aren't usually great writers. Although they may use spell check and translation programs, it's harder to get context and grammar right. Be on the lookout for mistakes.
4. Don't click unless you're sure. Never open an email attachment if you aren't certain that it's legitimate. Before clicking on any email buttons, hover over them to inspect the destination URL. Lastly, don't click within a suspicious email. Fraudulent emails are sometimes coded as a giant hyperlink where any click – even accidental – can usher in a malicious attack.
5. When in doubt, contact the sender via telephone. Use a known or validated phone number to contact the email sender to validate suspicious messages. Avoid replying to the email in question or using phone numbers within it.
6. Be wary if sensitive information is requested via email. An unsolicited email that asks for credit card or bank information, credit score, or tax numbers is probably a scam.
7. Pay attention to the email timestamp. Unlike consumer brands, B2B companies rarely send emails in the middle of the night. If you receive an email at 3 a.m. from a professional organization, examine it closely.
Once you make a habit of scanning emails for fraud, your accuracy will improve, and you'll be able to spot a phishing scam from miles away. Good luck, and remember to remain vigilant!