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Phishing emails are one of the great scourges of the internet. These emails are designed by malicious actors to look like actual communiqués sent by companies or other organizations, but in reality these emails are meant to steal your personal information. These emails will trick an unsuspecting California recipient into entering sensitive information into a fake website. They may also carry malware that can infect the recipient’s computer.

Some phishing emails are pretty easy to spot. According to techrepublic.com, you might receive an email that is supposed to be from a major corporation but the message contains a lot of spelling errors or bad grammar.  Words may contain missing letters or sentences lack punctuation marks. A major company would review its emails for spelling and grammar as well as possible legal issues, so it is unlikely such sloppy work would make it into a company email.

There are also phishing emails that threaten certain actions if the recipient does not comply. Some emails claim to come from the recipient’s bank and will threaten to close the recipient’s bank account without the recipient sending in personal information to verify the account. Other emails may purport to come from government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. These emails will demand action or threaten the receiver with legal repercussions. However, government entities or legit companies will usually try more direct contact methods beyond a single email and will not initiate action over a tardy response to just one email.

Another sign of a phishing email, according to Entrepreneur.com, is when the email does not even use your name. Some phishing emails will come with a generic greeting, such as “Hello, Valued Customer.” If the email came from a legit company that you have an account with, the company would obviously know your name. The email may also claim to confirm complaints you have filed with the company, even though you have not filed any such complaints.

You might also receive a phishing email that preys on your curiosity. Some phishing actors will compose emails that appear to be from legitimate news outlets. These emails will come bearing a provocative news headline and a link for the reader to receive the full news story. However, this link will instead lead to a malicious site that will infect your computer.

Phishing emails are a real menace. When in doubt, it is simply better to call the company that the email purports to be from and confirm that the company sent the email. Additionally, if the email is supposedly sent from a person you know yet the email appears suspicious, contact the sender using verified means, such as a confirmed phone number.

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