How to Spot a Phishing Email

phishing email

Would you know if you were the subject of a phishing attack? Many people claim that they’d be able to tell immediately if they received an email from an illegitimate source. If that were the case, there wouldn’t be 1.5 million new phishing sites every month, a 65% increase in attacks in the last year, and hackers would have moved on to their next scam.

How do you spot a phishing attack and avoid falling victim yourself?

Sender Email Address:

Always check to make sure that the email address is legitimate. Hackers will send things from Gmail or Hotmail accounts and hope you don’t notice. Even more sophisticated hackers will closely mimic an actual email domain, like rather than Double check the email address before responding, clicking, or opening, even if the from name appears correct. If you are ever unsure you can always call the company that the email is from and verify the authenticity.

Sender Name:

This one is also difficult to track, but phishing emails will typically close with a very generic name to avoid raising your suspicion. You should recognize the people that send you emails, or at the very least, clearly understand their role at the organization.

Discrepancies in Writing Format:

If the attack is coming from overseas, you’re likely to notice some small issues in writing format, like writing a date as 4th April, 2018 rather than April 4, 2018. Subtle differences in writing format like this are always red flags and you should use caution.

Grammar Issues: 

Typos are common, but if you receive an email riddled with grammar and spelling mistakes, double check where this email is coming from. It’s likely a hacker, especially if the email supposedly comes from a major organization.

Link Destination:

Hover over links in emails with your mouse before clicking them. The destination URL should pop up. Check out the domain name of this URL. Similar to the sender email address, make sure that this address is legitimate before clicking. If your unsure, do some online research. A simple Google search can help you find the legitimate business or URL information.


Rule of thumb, don’t open any attachment you don’t expect to receive, whether it’s a Zip file, PDF or otherwise. The payload for a ransomware attack often hides inside these attachments. Quite honestly, you shouldn’t be receiving attachments unless you specifically requested them.

Email Design:

A silly font like Comic Sans should immediately raise red flags, especially if you don’t know who the sender is.

Links to Verify Information:

Never, ever click on a link to verify information. Instead, if you think the information does need updating, go directly to the website. This is the easiest way for hackers to get your personal information. Type in your email and password, and update your information from the Account tab. Always go directly to the source.

Odd Logo Use:

Hackers try their best to mimic the site’s look and feel. Oftentimes, they get very close; but they won’t be perfect. If something feels off, it probably is. Do your research. Take the extra 5 minutes to verify the source and make sure the email is legitimate.


While there is no fool-proof method for avoiding falling victim to a phishing attack, knowing how to spot likely culprits is one step in the right direction. When in doubt, you can always call the Magnitech Team and we will review any and all suspicious emails for our clients.

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