How to Spot a Phishing Scam

Phishing is definitely not as fun nor relaxing as catching your dinner fresh from the river. Phishing is a type of crime in which the target is contacted by phone, email, or text message by someone mimicking a trusted company or person. These criminals’ main intent is to trick individuals into providing sensitive information like passwords and banking data, which can lead to financial losses and stolen identities.

Unfortunately, phishing is an extremely common cyber-crime. In fact, one in every 99 emails is a phishing attack, and 30% of these messages are opened by the recipients, according to Clearedin.

If you ever receive a suspicious call, email, or text, beware of the consequences.

Ways to Detect a Phishing Scam

Mysterious senders

Whether you receive a message from someone you don’t know or from someone posing as a friend, family member or colleague, do not open it if the subject or topic is unexpected or seems out of character. Report the sender to spam to prevent hearing from them again.

Misspelled or phony hyperlinks

Carefully investigate all links before — or instead of — clicking on them. Here’s a clever tip to spot fraudulent websites: Hover over a link to display the URL or web address. If the URL is obviously different from the so-called destination or contains misspellings or extra characters, do not click it. For example, in “,” the “m” is actually a “rn.” Keep in mind that this trick only works on laptops and desktop computers, so if you’re on a mobile phone, delete the email or text immediately and/or report it as spam.

Sketchy attachments

If there is an attached file in an email you weren’t necessarily expecting, do not open it. These malicious files often contain ransomware or other viruses that can infect your device.

Sense of urgency or too good to be true deals

If a message from an alleged brand urges you to “act fast!” on deals and discounts that are only here for a limited time, your best bet is to just ignore it. Many of these extraordinary statements (e.g., “You’ve won a free iPhone!” or “You’ve been selected. Claim your prize now!”) are strategically written to attract recipients’ attention. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.

Rural Mutual cares about keeping our customers safe and protected from inconvenient, nerve-racking cyber scams. To learn more, visit our Cybersecurity Learning Center.