Watch Out For Phishing Scam Emails This Holiday Season

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While email phishing scams are a problem year-round, they are more common during the holiday season. Scammers are trying to use the holidays to get more sympathy from their victims so they can fall into their traps. Watch out for these scams this holiday season and avoid getting duped by following these simple pieces of advice

Look at the Sender: If you don’t recognize the name or email address of the email sender, hold off on believing it, especially if that person is asking for personal information like your social security or credit card number. Even if the name or email address is somebody you recognize, be wary as it’s trivial to fake that information. Call the person on the phone to verify the information in the email if there is a concern.

Look at the URLs: Scammers cannot easily take over legit banking or private sites, so they generally create sites that look just like the proper site, but load it from a fake site and URL they control. Fraudsters sometimes include authentic links in their emails, such as to the genuine privacy policy and terms of service pages for the site they’re mimicking. These authentic links are mixed in with links to a fake web site in order to make the spoof site appear more realistic. So look at the links and if they look weird, check them with a URL scanning tool like ScanURL, which checks Google’s Safe Browsing, PhishTank and WOT all at once.

Look at the Calls to Action: Is there a demand for immediate action? There’s a pretty good chance it’s a scam. Be wary of emails “your account will be closed,” “your account has been compromised,” or “urgent action required.” The scammers are taking advantage of your panic to trick you into providing private information. If something were legitimately urgent, you’d likely receive a phone call, not an email.

Look at the Content: Generic greetings (“Dear Customer” or “Dear Member”), poor spelling and grammar, broken graphics and requests for personally identifying information (social security numbers, passwords, etc…) all could be signs that something isn’t right.

DON’T Look at the Attachments: Whatever you do, don’t look at or open any attachments that you aren’t expecting, especially in emails like this. Attachments are one of the best way to get your system infected with viruses, malware and other nastiness. If you’re not expecting the attachment, delete the message immediately.

Weston offers solutions to help protect from email-borne threats, including WestonBlock, our comprehensive email protection and continuity solution. While no solution is perfect, the tips above — combined with proper anti-virus protection and a good email protection system — can go a long way. Contact us today to learn more.

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