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How to Spot a Phishing Ploy

Phish in Troubled Waters

Scammers are not your friend, but they’ll certainly impersonate one. Phishing email messages, websites, and phone calls are designed for one purpose: to steal money. Scammers can do this by installing malicious software on your computer or stealing personal information off of your computer. They also use deceptive communication to convince you to install malicious software or hand over your personal information under false pretenses. You may receive an email or phone call, or convince you to download something off of a website.

We live by the following rule; If it seems fishy they’re probably phishing.


When it comes to detecting a phishing scam, rely on good old common sense. The bad guys know which psychological buttons to push to improve the odds of getting you to click on a malicious link or give up personal information.  Be wary of:

  • Emails with attachments, jokes, etc.
  • Emails containing unrealistic threats or offers
  • Emails that offer protection.
    • Scammers are really trying to get personal information from you. Go directly to the sites you need to access.
  • Emails asking for personal information or money
  • Emails that contain a mismatched URL or misleading url name
    • If you have any suspicions about the authenticity of an email or text, do not click the links in it. You can hover your mouse (but don’t click) on the link to see if the address matches the link that was typed in the message. If they don’t match it’s most likely a scam.
  • Pop-up ads and banners from questionable sources

Bottom line: Trust your instincts. If it seems bad, it most likely is. In most cases you can easily confirm an email’s authenticity with the sender. If the email doesn’t contain a phone number or alternate way of communicating with the sender, delete it!