How to spot a phishing email scam

ID-100264479Cyber criminals are always looking for ways to try and steal your information. One of their favorites is to send legitimate-looking emails to “fish” for account numbers and payment information.

So how can you spot fake emails from the real thing? We’ve got five ways to spot a scam:

1. Look at the sender’s email address. Often this is your first clue something is amiss—if the address doesn’t match the business supposedly sending the email, it’s probably a scam.

2. Look for spelling and grammar mistakes. Frequently cybercriminals make some pretty horrible mistakes (see one of our previous alerts for a good example). Sure, mistakes happen even in professional communications, but they’re rare. If you notice errors, it might be a scam.

3. Beware of links. Hover your mouse over any links in a potentially suspicious email. Doing so will reveal the actual web address you’ll be taken to if you click. If the address is a cryptic set of numbers, looks nothing like the web address from the supposed sender, or is actually an .exe file (which could actually be malicious software), you know it’s probably a scam.

4. Don’t fall for threats. Watch for phrases such as “your account will be closed” or “your account has been compromised.” Odds are if either of these were true, you would be contacted in a way other than over email.

5. A company you do business with is asking for information. It’s easier to scam people when they think the email is from a company they already know—just remember the company probably already has (or should have) the information being requested.

A good rule of thumb for unsolicited emails (and phone calls!) is to be skeptical. And, when in doubt, delete the email and reach out the business who “sent” it to see if it was legitimate.

If you find out later you were tricked, we urge you to change passwords immediately!

And please remember, TDS will never contact you directly and ask you to verify any part of your account. In fact, if you want to make any changes to your account, we require you to verify that you’re authorized to do so!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at

About TDS Security Team

The latest news and advice from the TDS Security Team.

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