Don’t Be a Phishing Victim: 3 Sure Signs an E-Mail is Fake

Posted on November 27th, 2013

Anyone who has been online more than a few years has likely been the victim of a phishing attack. What starts as a seemingly legitimate e-mail requesting information from a user can lead to account infiltration, e-mails sent to that person’s entire contact list, or identity theft.

Over time, phishing has become more sophisticated, using logos and imitating fonts and intensifying threats to prey on the fears of its victims. But there are a few sure-fire signs that an e-mail might not be what it seems. By looking for these small indicators, you can save yourself—and your friends—hours of grief.


If a company the size of Apple or Facebook sends out an e-mail, that e-mail is generally professionally written, including perfect grammar and spelling. Large corporations carefully craft these e-mails and send them to thousands of people over a short period of time. Even one error would be spotted fairly quickly and corrected.


The hallmark of a phishing e-mail is that it revolves around one link. The link invites you to click. Don’t be fooled by text in the link that appears as though it will direct you to a major website. The text you see in front of you will not be the link you’re directed to if you click. That link will connect you to the cybercriminal’s site, where your information will be collected and used.


Whether a phishing e-mail promises to reward you with a monetary prize or threatens account revocation if you fail to act, the one thing you’ll notice is urgency. The cybercriminal’s trick is to get you to act in haste. Don’t be afraid to take time to research and ask a tech-savvy friend or colleague for their thoughts on the e-mail.

The best way to avoid being phished is to avoid clicking on links in e-mail. If a notification arrives that one of your accounts is in trouble, go directly to that site by entering the address in your browser. If a problem exists, you should be able to find evidence of it in your account settings. If not, contact the site’s support for more information.