Email phishing scams can trick you into opening attachments or giving up personal information. They appear to be emails from organizations or companies you trust, but they’re often the gateway to data breaches or identity theft.

5 Ways to Recognize a Phishing Attempt

  • It asks you for your password or directs you to a web form asking for your password
  • If the link within the body of the message points to a non-Carleton email address
  • The subject line is in all caps
  • There is a call for immediate action – “download this now” or “confirm you email identity now” or “click on the link below”
  • There are spelling or grammatical errors in the email

If you receive an email from an address you don’t recognize, your first thought should be: is this email legitimate?  But know that malicious emails can also come from an address that you do recognize – perhaps their account got hacked and is now being used to spam people.

Successful Phishing Campaigns

If successful, phishing scams can have serious repercussions.

Some successful phishing attempts that made the news include the phishing email that hacked the account of John Podesta, Hillary Clinton’s campaign manager, and a scam that University of Kansas employees fell for which impacted payroll.

Other Risks to your Email

In addition to phishing, here are a few risks to always be aware of when it comes to your email:

  • A weak email account password could leave your personal information vulnerable – create passwords that protect you.
  • Spyware may be sent as an attachment in an email and allow criminals access to your information.
  • Viruses can spread through email to your entire contact list without you knowing it.
  • Spam can get through your filter and inundate you with unsolicited email.

Email is one of the easiest ways for cyber criminals to target ordinary citizens. So, as with anything in life, if something seems suspicious, go with your instincts.