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The 7 red flags of phishing

The 7 red flags of phishing - Long description immediately follows
Long description - The 7 red flags of phishing

Phishing is one of the most common threats you can encounter online. Luckily, phishing messages can be easy to spot – if you know what you’re looking for.

Here are the 7 biggest red flags you should check for when you receive an email or text.

1 Urgent or threatening language

Real emergencies don’t happen over email.

Look out for:

  • Pressure to respond quickly
  • Threats of closing your account or taking legal action

2 Requests for sensitive information

Anyone asking for personal information over email or text probably shouldn’t be trusted with it, anyway.

Look out for:

  • Links directing you to login pages
  • Requests to update your account information
  • Demands for your financial information, even from your bank.

3 Anything too good to be true

Winning a lottery is unlikely. Winning a lottery you didn’t enter is impossible!

Look out for:

  • Winnings from contests you’ve never entered
  • Prizes you have to pay to receive
  • Inheritance from long-lost relatives

4 Unexpected emails

Except the unexpected, and then send it right to the trash.

Look out for:

  • Receipts for items you didn’t purchase
  • Updates on deliveries for things you didn’t order

5 Information mismatches

Searching for clues in phishing email puts your love of true crime podcasts to good use.

Look out for:

  • Incorrect (but maybe similar) sender email addresses
  • Links that don’t go to official websites
  • Spelling or grammar errors, beyond the odd typo, that a legitimate organization wouldn’t miss

6 Suspicious attachments

Attachments might seem like gifts for your inbox. But just like real gifts, they’re not always good…

Look out for:

  • Attachments you didn’t ask for
  • Weird file names
  • Uncommon file types

7 Unprofessional design

For some reason, hiring a graphic designer isn’t on a cyber criminals priority list.

Look out for:

  • Incorrect or blurry logos
  • Company emails with little, poor or no formatting
  • Image-only emails (no highlightable text)

If you spot any of these red flags in a message:

  • don’t click any links
  • don’t reply or forward
  • don’t open attachments

Delete the email or text, or reach out to the sender through a different channel if you're not sure.

Get more tips to protect yourself and your devices at: GetCyberSafe.ca

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