PC Tip of the Month

Detect Fake Emails

December 2019 – by Per Christensson

Have you ever received an email and you're not sure it is from a legitimate source? Before you click that link, here are five things to check to make sure it is not a fake or "phishing" email.

  1. The From Address – The first thing you should check is the domain name in the "From" field. If the message is from Microsoft and the domain name is not "microsoft.com," it's probably not from Microsoft.
  2. Your Name – If you have an account with a company or organization, they should have your name in their database. So if you receive an email you saying your account has been hacked, but the email never mentions your name, chances are it's a fake email.
  3. The Grammar – Many phishing emails come from overseas. Most are not proofread. If the message contains grammatical errors, it's often a sign someone is pretending to be someone they are not.
  4. The Layout – Fake emails often have low-quality layouts that look unprofessional. If you receive an email purporting to be from a reputable organization with misplaced images, strange fonts, and poor structure, chances are it is a fake email.
  5. The Links – If you're checking your email with your computer, hover your cursor over the links before clicking them. The actual URL of the link should appear in the window status bar or in a small popup bubble by the link when you hover over it. If the URL has a strange domain name unrelated to the sender, don't click it.

Most mail services and email clients filter junk mail, including fake emails that try to get you to click links. Unfortunately, they don't catch 100% of them. So be vigilant when checking your email. If you think an email may be legitimate, but you're not sure, you can always reply to the sender asking for more information.

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