How To Recognize And Avoid Phishing Scams Online?

Phishing Scams

You have to be cautious, as disguises of phishing scams are prevalent. Have you ever received an email claiming to be from a prince, offering a share of their fortune? You know better than to fall for that one, but what about emails, texts, and calls that appear to be from trusted individuals like your CEO or colleague?

Recent data highlights an alarming increase in phishing scams, making them harder to detect: Barracuda reports that 91% of all cyberattacks begin in your inbox; Verizon finds that human errors contribute significantly to cybersecurity breaches, responsible for 82% of attacks.

Here we look at methods and tools that allow you to identify phishing scams. Our priority is online security despite the spread of spear phishing.

Understanding Phishing

A Phishing attack or scam occurs when an attacker sends an email, pretending to be someone else (like the CEO of a company) or a different entity (such as Google), to trick the recipient into revealing sensitive information.

Essentially, the attacker aims to instill fear, curiosity, or a sense of urgency in the target. They often prompt the target to open an attachment or provide their sensitive information (like username, password, or credit card number), ultimately coercing them into compliance.

There are several types of phishing attacks, including:

  • Emails phishing that appear to originate from trusted sources, like Amazon customer support or your bank.
  • Phone calls that pressure the victim to take immediate action.
  • Emails posing as the victim’s organization’s human resources department, requesting personal details updates or the installation of a new application on their system.
  • Online advertisements mislead victims into clicking legitimate-looking links, redirecting them to malicious websites.
  • Social media phishing was, is, and will be a popular strategy.
  • Spoofed websites are those websites that look identical to popular websites. However, instead of accessing your account, they collect your passwords and hack your accounts.
  • You are likely to encounter spear phishing, an attack method that involves sending personalized emails to deceive a specific individual or organization into thinking they are legitimate. Typically, these attacks aim at executives or individuals in financial departments who possess sensitive data.
  • Smishing and vishing both exploit phones as a medium instead of emails. In smishing, the victim receives text messages to lure them into sharing sensitive information. Meanwhile, hackers employ phone communication in vishing.

Recognizing Phishing Emails

In an era where cybersecurity is paramount, the vigilant guidance provided by the IT service desk becomes instrumental. Recognizing the escalating threat of phishing scams, the IT service desk plays a pivotal role in educating users on identifying phishing attempts and implementing measures to protect personal information.

Let’s explore key practices recommended by the IT service desk to fortify online security and empower users against cyber threats.

1. Check the Sender's Email Address

Legitimate organizations never utilize email addresses ending with “” Even Google doesn’t do that! Most organizations have their own domain and company accounts for official communication. Before opening an email, always ensure that the domain name (what comes after @) matches the sender.

2. Verify Email Signatures

Most people don’t look at the email address, and much fewer email signatures, since that requires an additional button click. One of the main techniques that helps recognize and avoid phishing is verifying requests, signatures, and identities. If the CEO of a large company is listed in the description, you are likely to find information about him.

3. Look for Spelling and Grammar Mistakes

Pay attention to spelling and grammar mistakes. Typically, attackers and scammers do not bother with such trifles. Large companies, on the contrary, monitor the quality of content and extremely rarely make even small mistakes. The presence of errors is an alarming signal that should make you more wary of the letter.

4. Be cautious of Urgent or Alarming Messages

Did you suddenly and without any background suddenly feel the need to do something? Most likely, your new email content wants to deceive you and force you to make an unreasonable, thoughtless decision. It is most reasonable to double-check all urgent messages several dozen times.

5. Check the Destination URL

If you see suspicious links, you should double-check the information. How can you be sure that a link is suspicious or is sent from trusted websites? The simplest action is hovering over links.

This simple action allows you to perform sender verification. You will see the destination URL in the pop-up window. Successful link verification – an exact link to a well-known company domain without anything extraneous.

If you see unnecessary characteristics, a short link created through such services, and you do not know its contents, or you see a mismatch in the URL for the sender, you can be sure that it is phishing.

Protecting Personal Information

1. Rotate Passwords Regularly

If you have online accounts, make it a habit to regularly change your passwords. This prevents attackers from gaining unlimited access.

Your accounts could have been compromised without your knowledge, so rotating passwords adds an extra layer of protection, preventing ongoing attacks and locking out potential attackers.

2. Avoiding Sharing Sensitive Information

To ensure the security of your card information, it is advisable not to provide it willingly unless you have full trust on the website. Always verify the authenticity of the website, confirm the legitimacy of the company, and ensure the site is secure before sharing your details.

3. Use a VPN

When you connect to the Internet without security software, your data goes directly to the site. A basic cybersecurity awareness policy means that this data may be intercepted.

You can use – one of the advanced VPNs on the market today and protect yourself from harassment. The VPN redirects your data through a secure server in encrypted form.

4. Contacting the Supposed Sender through Official Channels

If Facebook invites you to share information by mail, try requesting official communication channels. This could be a chat or support service.

5. Verifying Requests for Information

A key tool for protecting personal information is checking whether the company’s collection of financial information and other valuable data makes sense and is necessary. What does it mean?

If you are asked to provide sensitive information, think about why this request was sent by the company. If it is a TV manufacturer, but it asks for social security numbers, the situation is suspicious.

Another likely scenario that leads to updating passwords is that you receive notifications from sites where you registered in response to some activity.

You should monitor account activity and activate two-factor authentication on it. If there is a login history, it is also wise to check the information.

Recognizing Social Media Phishing

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1. Scrutinize the Account Details

Just as with email phishing, legitimate entities on social media seldom operate through generic handles like “” It’s a red flag. Major organizations maintain distinct domain names for official communications.

Before engaging with any message, ensure that the account’s handle aligns with the platform’s standard practices, and steer clear of those lacking a recognizable domain.

2. Verify Profile Information and Signatures

While many users may overlook profile details, especially in the fast-paced social media landscape, taking a moment to inspect them can be pivotal. In the same vein, scrutinizing profile signatures can provide critical insights.

If a high-profile individual, such as a company CEO, is mentioned in a post or message, it’s prudent to cross-verify the information. Legitimate accounts often feature comprehensive details about such figures.

3. Spot Spelling and Grammar Discrepancies

Much like in email phishing attempts, scammers operating on social media may overlook language quality. Large organizations invest in maintaining content integrity, making them less likely to produce content with glaring spelling and grammar mistakes.

Any such errors in a post or message should raise an immediate red flag, prompting a closer examination of the account’s authenticity.

4. Exercise Caution with Urgent Appeals

The urgency tactic employed in email phishing is equally prevalent on social media. If you find yourself suddenly urged to take immediate action without proper context, exercise caution.

Impulsive decisions prompted by seemingly urgent messages often lead to unintended consequences. Double-check the veracity of urgent appeals by validating the source through alternative means.

5. Scrutinize Link Destinations

As with email phishing, suspicious links are a primary indicator of social media phishing attempts. Hover over links to reveal the destination URL. This simple action allows you to assess the link’s authenticity.

A legitimate link should lead to a well-known company domain without extraneous elements. If a link appears unfamiliar or employs a shortened URL service, exercise caution. Mismatches between the URL and the purported sender should trigger heightened skepticism, signaling a potential social media phishing endeavor.

Recognizing a Spoofed Website

When it comes to identifying a spoofed website, employing a vigilant approach is crucial in mitigating potential phishing threats. Much like the tactics used to recognize phishing in emails and social media, several key strategies can be applied to unravel the deceptive nature of spoofed websites.

1. Scrutinize the Website URL

Legitimate websites often possess secure and recognizable domain names. Check for subtle variations or misspellings in the URL, as cybercriminals commonly employ such tactics to create convincing replicas. Ensure that the URL aligns with the expected domain for the website you intend to visit, avoiding unfamiliar or suspicious-looking addresses.

2. Verify Website Design and Functionality

Spoofed websites may exhibit inconsistencies in design and functionality compared to their authentic counterparts. Pay attention to the overall look and feel of the site, including the quality of logos and layouts. Legitimate websites invest in maintaining a polished appearance, making any deviations a potential red flag.

3. Look for Grammatical and Typographical Errors

Just as in phishing emails and social media posts, scammers behind spoofed websites may neglect language quality. Legitimate organizations prioritize content integrity and rarely make significant grammatical or typographical mistakes. Be cautious if you encounter errors in the website content, as these can indicate a potential phishing attempt.

4. Exercise Caution with Urgent Prompts

Similar to phishing tactics in other mediums, spoofed websites may employ urgency to coerce users into hasty actions. If you encounter sudden and unexplained prompts to take immediate actions, such as providing sensitive information or making transactions, exercise caution. Double-check the legitimacy of the website and its requests before proceeding.

5. Scrutinize Website Security Indicators

A secure website typically begins with “https://” and displays a padlock icon in the address bar, indicating encryption. Spoofed websites may lack these security indicators. Always verify the presence of these security features, especially when dealing with websites that require the input of personal or financial information.

By incorporating these techniques, users can navigate the web with confidence, distinguishing between legitimate websites and potential phishing threats. Stay vigilant, trust your instincts, and take the necessary steps to verify the authenticity of websites before engaging with them.

Recognizing Smishing and Vishing

In the world of mobile and voice-based phishing, adopting a discerning approach is essential to thwart potential scams. Similar to email and social media phishing, there are key techniques to unveil the deceptive tactics of smishing (SMS phishing) and vishing (voice phishing).

1. Scrutinize the Sender's Details

Just as with email phishing, legitimate entities rarely use generic numbers for official communication. A red flag arises when unexpected SMS messages or calls originate from unfamiliar numbers or those lacking a recognizable source.

Legitimate organizations typically employ specific numbers for official purposes, setting the standard for trustworthy communication.

2. Verify Message or Call Content

Most individuals tend to overlook the details of SMS messages or voice calls. However, taking a moment to inspect the content is pivotal. Similar to email signatures, SMS messages or calls may contain unique identifiers or request specific actions.

Verify the legitimacy of requests and scrutinize the provided information, especially if high-profile individuals or urgent actions are mentioned.

3. Detect Spelling and Grammar Discrepancies

Just as in email phishing attempts, smishing and vishing may exhibit language inconsistencies. Legitimate organizations prioritize communication integrity and are less likely to present content with glaring spelling and grammar mistakes.

Any such errors in a message or call should raise immediate suspicion, prompting a closer examination of the communication’s authenticity.

4. Exercise Caution with Urgent Appeals

The urgency tactic prevalent in email phishing is equally employed in smishing and vishing attempts. If you suddenly receive urgent messages or calls demanding immediate action without proper context, exercise caution.

Impulsive decisions prompted by seemingly urgent communications often lead to unintended consequences. Double-check the legitimacy of urgent appeals by verifying the source through alternative means.

5. Scrutinize Embedded Links or Call-to-Action Numbers

As with email phishing, suspicious links in SMS messages or prompts to call unfamiliar numbers are primary indicators of smishing and vishing attempts. Hover over links if possible, or conduct a separate search to verify the authenticity of provided numbers.

Legitimate communication will lead to well-known company domains or official contact numbers without extraneous elements.

By incorporating these techniques, individuals can navigate the web of deception in smishing and vishing scenarios, differentiating between legitimate communications and potential phishing endeavors.

Stay vigilant, trust your instincts, and verify the authenticity of mobile and voice-based communications before taking any actions.


In fact, there is a lot more I would like to say. For example, try to use antivirus and various anti-malware software, such as firewalls; check your account statements regularly; pay attention to educating; update software; report phishing attempts to anti-phishing authorities, etc.

When it comes to security, always choose a proactive approach. With these phishing detection methods, you will be able to distinguish between requests from legitimate organizations and phishing attacks in just a few minutes, or maybe even seconds, depending on their ingenuity.

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