I get these from Paypal Phishing emails time to time and I’m sure anyone with an active email account will also. We are all used to seeing spam emails pretending to be from valid companies all the time. The question is how can you spot if these are legitimate emails? How can you spot if these are just trying to get your account details? Well there are some things you can look out for…

No Personalised Name

Firstly you will normally see Dear PayPal User, or Dear Netflix user or simply Dear Subscriber

If this is a valid company, who has your details, why is the email not using your first name?
Most emails from companies such as Netflix or PayPal will include some identifying ID info on your emails. This may include your account number, your name or your username. Check out the example below!

Some Frantic Excuse

Very often there is some excuse for the email. Some scenarios I have seen include ;

  • “We were updating our severs and noticed an issue, you now need to revalidate your account”.
  • “In order to further secure your account please log in and verify your credentials”
  • “If you do not login within 24 hours your account will be deleted”

Don’t fall for these excuses. This is just to get you panicking so that you don’t think about what you are doing.  Check out the example below!

Links are not official Links

Within the email , if you are required to log in, you will see a link such as ‘log in’ or ‘sign in’. The link to these phishing sites will be under this.

You have two ways to check for this. First you can hover-over the link in your email client. If it is from PayPal the web address should be PayPal.com. Similarly if it it is a Netflix email, Netflix.com should be the web address listed as the link. Occasionally email systems like ConstantContact may place their link and use a redirect – therefore it does not always work.

The second way to check, is if you do click the link, ensure you are on the official site by checking the we address.

Graphics May appear out of line or pixelated

One other way you can detect spammy phishing emails is by their graphics. The images used in the emails are often just stolen from the official sites and are not always placed correctly in the emails. Therefore they may look too wide or not the right height to width ratio.

What to do if you are unsure?

If you get an email from Netflix, PayPal or even your Bank or Revenue, email them via their official website or call them. Better to be safe than sorry.

Remember your Bank and the taxation/revenue services will never usually contact you by email asking for personal or security information.
Be cautious and be safe. If it sounds a bit far fetched then it could very well be a phishing email.

Example of a Phishing Email

This is an example of one email I got, the web address when I clicked the link did not bring me to PayPal.com – you can see some of what I mentioned above in the email below. Not personalised,  and a frantic excuse about ‘unusual activity’.

Phishing email

Conclusion

Just to finalise on this topic, firstly companies like PayPal and Netflix have no control over this. If you get a phishing email it is not their fault therefore as the customer you will have to take due care with your account details. Hopefully the tips above on how to spot phasing scams will help you if you are unsure. If you get an email and you are still not sure what to do, ask a friend who might have more IT/web knowledge – get a second opinion. It’s better than losing your account, or worse, money. Stay safe online, always be on the look out for something which doesn’t feel right.

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