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Improve your security IQ – Tips to help you avoid email scams

Cybercrime has been around as long as the internet itself, but cybercriminals are always using new methods and upping their games in an attempt to steal your identity. With scammers getting more and more sophisticated, it’s important to educate yourself on the hallmark signs of an attempt at phishing – a scam that uses a fraudulent email that looks legitimate and is designed to lure you into providing personal information.


Here are a few clues to help you spot an email scam:

  • The Source — Even when the sender of an email is identified as a person or organization you know…is that really who sent the email? Check the sender information in the email’s properties to verify. And if you don’t know the sender, delete the email without clicking any links or following any of the email’s instructions.
  • The Links — The links in phishing emails take you to webpages that look like legitimate sites – but aren’t. Always hover your mouse over a link without clicking to check the URL, which should match the name of the company that sent you the message.
  • The Security — Any legitimate email asking you to visit a website to provide personal information should use a secure site. If the URL doesn’t contain the “s” in “https,” that means the site is not secure.
  • The Style — You often can recognize a fraudulent email by how it is written. Maybe it has typos or wording that seems strange. Maybe it’s from someone you know well but the language seems distant or formal.
  • The Urgency — Cybercriminals often want to create a sense of urgency so that you don’t take time to think through details or notice clues that something isn’t right, using words like, “urgent,” “immediate,” or “action required.”


If you receive an email you feel is fraudulent, you can report it to the Federal Trade Commission at To learn more about how to spot scams and other financial education topics, click here.
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