It’s a good time to educate yourself around what phishing looks like and how you can protect yourself from any future attempts.
What is phishing?
Google defines phishing as “the fraudulent practice of sending emails purporting to be from reputable companies in order to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.”
So basically any email that pretends to be from a trusted company or service that you use or don’t use. Our team have apparently had them from HMRC, PayPal, Microsoft, delivery couriers amongst others. The ultimate goal of the phisher is to convince you that the email is credible enough to enter your personal information, follow a dodgy link or download a questionable attachment.
Why are we blogging about it?
You might, at this point, be asking yourself why we are blogging about this subject today. Simply enough it is because we and some of our clients have begun to receive a barrage of phishing emails targeted at gaining access to our and their business details and other personal information.
You’d think that phishing tends to occur more to individuals opposed to businesses however you’d be incorrect. You need to be prepared if you are establishing any online business, to receive these emails and to be able to reliably distinguish between a real and fake message.
How to avoid it
No organisation will ever contact you to ask for your login or personal information. If you receive a suspicious (or sometimes very convincing) email there are a number of steps you can take to determine the best course of action and protect yourself.
1. It is remarkably easy to change how your email address appears to the recipient via email.
You can see in the pictures above that when you click on the otherwise official looking PayPal email address you’ll see that this is only a display name and the email actually came from another random address. Notice also that the message iss addressed to
2. Most banks and other services have wizened up to phishing tactics and may include a specific piece of your personal information at the top of the email, such as the beginning of your postcode or your full name. This is so you can be confident that the email is genuine as phishers will not have access to your personal information.
3. If you are concerned by the content of the email, leave your mail client or web browser and visit the bank or businesses website directly. NEVER contact your bank to query the email using contact details within the message as it’s almost certainly a fake number and you’ll be speaking to the very people you are trying to avoid.
4. Always use different passwords for all of your online accounts. This means that if you are a victim of a phishing scam, the damage that can be done is a far more limited.
If you think you may have been a victim of phishing you should tell the service the email purported to be as soon as possible. Read more of our helpful posts by clicking here.
Liam is a website designer and digital marketer based in Leeds, West Yorkshire. He spent a decade working within the charity sector before moving into the marketing space a number of years ago. Liam always strives to do something slightly different with every project and always designs to deliver results, not just pretty websites.