Unmasking Phishing Scams: 10 Vital Clues to Detect Suspicious Activity

By Aaron Stone

In an age where phishing scams abound, they manifest in various guises—be it a deceptive phone call, an email posing as a trusted bank representative, or a text masquerading as a family member. From unauthorized fund transfers to the illicit use of personal information, these scammers pose a multifaceted threat, targeting emails, businesses, and websites alike. Arm yourself with awareness and fortify against these risks to safeguard not just yourself, but also your employees and business from the perils of online deception. Stay vigilant, stay secure!

Asking for Personal and Financial Information

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Your personal and financial information are the very keys to successfully extracting whatever scammers want to hack from you. You may receive a call, and the person on the other line tells you that you are being offered a credit card, but to proceed, he will conduct a verification of your information to push through with your credit card application. The verification seems off as he extracts personal information instead of stating what is supposed to be held by them. Instead of them asking if the details they have are correct, you are not merely saying a “Yes” or “No” but are literally asked to state and provide all the required information. Beware of this. 

Something Urgent That Needs Your Quick Response

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Your account will be closed if you do not log in and verify through the link provided within 24 hours!” This was the email you received. It could also be an email stating that your account has been compromised, so you need to change the password right away by clicking the link on the email. It could also be some other emails that try to put pressure on you to respond right away and update your personal information. Remember, however, that real emergencies are not communicated through emails. If indeed your bank account will be closed, on what grounds? Is the bank account becoming dormant? There should be a written notice from the bank instead, not through email, and you will be required to visit your branch of account.

Offers That Are So Good to Be True

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So you were surprised to receive a notice that you won the raffle draw, which you did not join, or the lottery even if you haven’t bought a ticket. Or it could be that a relative has left some significant amount of inheritance for you. To claim your prizes or whatever, you need to provide vital information, or scammers may ask you to shoulder a small amount of processing and shipping fees. Not only are they collecting your name and phone number but also your address and banking information.

Unexpected Emails

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You may find messages thanking you for purchasing their products or services that you have not availed of at all, or it could be some tracking details that say follow the link to track your package even though you are not expecting anything to arrive.

Sender Misrepresentation

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Be extra careful, as scammers are very good at masking themselves, appearing as legitimate representatives of banks, companies, or even government agencies. They can also pretend to be your colleagues. With these, they give their potential victims some sense of security, thinking they are legitimate representatives.

Mismatched Information

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These emails would state that they are from a particular entity, but on careful look, the website or email address used is incorrect or has some very slight difference. The link sent to you also does not lead to the official website but deviates you to another. 

Unofficial Domain

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You do not need to be a detective to know the email sent to you is made for the purpose of phishing information because you can easily check if it is coming from an official domain. For example, it is supposed to be sent by Microsoft.com. So, the sender would be [email protected] or [email protected], but you get an email instead from [email protected] or [email protected]. You should know these email addresses and domains look off at first glance.  

Strange Subject Line

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Anything that looks and sounds strange like “Warning!!!”, “You may be hacked!”, “Your funds are”, “Your compensation or refund”, or whatever you are not expecting on your email list bearing these strange subject lines are most likely phishing scams. 

The Design is Very Unprofessional

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Company emails that do not use their domain, have poor graphic presentation, unprofessional layout, poor grammar and spelling mistakes, wrong word choices, and incorrect logos are among the many hints for a phishing scam. Be very watchful of these mistakes, as these are indicators that they are (most likely) sent by phishing practitioners.

Gut Feeling

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Above all, trust your gut feeling or your instincts. Being on the side of caution will not cost you anything. Do not respond to the message. If it is regarding your bank account, contact your bank directly. For all other things, reach out to your administrator and report possible phishing scams.

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