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What is a phishing email and 3 ways to detect one

*Recently a scam email was sent out claiming to be from Dakota Central and wanting customers to update payment information online. This is a scam email, so please delete! The link included in the email has been blocked, so it will not work if you click on it. 

Phishing is a funny word, but it’s definitely not a laughing matter! What is “phishing”?

Phishing is when a scammer uses a fraudulent email to get personal information from you, like social security numbers or credit card information. They can then use that information to steal your money or even your identity in extreme cases. They send you an email that looks like it’s from a company you probably trust, and convince you to click on the link they provide. Just like “fishing”- hook, line and sinker.

So now that you know what it is, here are three easy ways to quickly spot a phishing email:

1- Sender Email Address
If an email seems suspicious- always check what email address the message came from first! If it is a scam, the sender email address is usually something obviously suspicious. For example, if Dakota Central was sending you an email, the sender address domain would be @dakotacentral.com. If the sender address is from a strange domain, it’s likely a scam.

2- Company Logo
If a company is sending an email, they almost always use their company logo these days. A phishing email might include a logo, but it most likely isn’t the true logo of the company it’s claiming to be from. It may just include part of the logo, the same colors, or even just a plain text logo, instead of an image. A logo will usually be an image, not text. A way to double-check a company’s logo is to search online for the company website, and look closely if the logo looks the same. If it’s not, the message is probably a scam.

3- Spelling/Grammar Errors
Scam emails sometimes include spelling or grammar errors, so make sure you read the email very closely to see if anything looks suspicious. Many times we see a headline and see a link to click on and we skim over the actual email message, but make sure to pay attention to any mistakes in the email.

Many times phishing emails are obvious and seem too good to be true- for example, “Click here to claim your prize!” However, sometimes they really do seem legitimate, like a shipping notification, or a notice to update your online payment method.

Once you’ve decided an email looks “phishy”- now what?

Don’t open the email (if you haven’t already)
Don’t click on any links
-Don’t reply to the sender
Delete the message

Watch our Tech Tip Thursday episode below- all about phishing emails!