How can I tell is an email is FAKE?

Security Tip: "Phishy" E-Mail: How to Spot Fake E-Mail

There has been a marked rise in the number of e-mails that attempt to gather personal data from you by means of deception. This activity is know as "phishing" and has duped many trusting people into revealing such personal information as home addresses and even credit card numbers. These e-mails frequently try to appear as legitimate mail from a well-known business source, or a company that you may have done frequent business with in the past. With this in mind, here are a few tips to help identify suspicious e-mail and prevent this from happening to you.

How to Spot a Forgery
• First, don't automatically trust the "From" and "Reply To" addresses you see as they can be faked easily.
• Look for misspellings or grammatical errors in the text.If you see a lot of them, it is unlikely that the e-mail came from a legitimate business.
• Watch for graphics that seem "off." Perhaps a trademark image just isn't right, or maybe things don't line up properly. These are all warning signs.
• Many Phishers will send a form in the e-mail or direct you to a website to enter your data. For the most part, legitimate businesses will never ask for information this way.

Don't Take The Bait
• Never give out any personal information without first validating the source. Call the business and see if the mailing is legitimate. Or check out their website to see if there is further information on the subject. Take nothing at face value.
• Never open an e-mail attachment without first knowing what it is.
• Make sure your antivirus software scans your e-mail. (Even then, some virus-carrying fakes might get through, especially if your antivirus definitions aren't up to date.) Again, confirm with the business that they actually sent you the e-mail before running an unknown file on your machine.
• Similarly, be careful clicking on weblinks in e-mail - especially if the e-mail looks suspicious to start with. These links can be disguised to make it look like you are going to one website when they are actually taking you to another site… and the disguised site you go to may even place malicious files on your computer.

So be wary. Verify sources. Have antivirus software on your computer. And please, please, keep it updated.

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