The 12 most common subject lines and other signs that ‘phishy’ email is scam

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The 12 most common subject lines and other signs that ‘phishy’ email is scam

Since the day of its arrival, the internet has been a goldmine for criminals looking to manipulate vulnerable people. Cyber crime is the fastest growing criminal method and has a major impact on us both personally and economically. In fact, it is reported that cyber crime is estimated to cost the worldwide economy a staggering $600 billion per year.

The most common method used by scammers to fool us is email – known as phishing. These emails often contain ransomware or links taking you to a fake website where you will enter sensitive details. Probably the most seen method is the “bank” email, designed to trick recipients into giving away their financial details.

In a recent news update, Action Fraud reported the 12 most common subject lines that indicate your email is under attack. These subject lines were compiled following the analysis of 360,000 phishing emails in a three-month period.

These common email scam subject lines are:

  • Request
  • Follow up
  • Urgent/Important
  • Are you available/Are you at your desk?
  • Payment status
  • Purchase
  • Invoice due
  • Re:
  • Direct deposit
  • Expenses
  • Payroll

A lot of these subject lines use language mimicking phrases that we hear in the workplace. This is because cyber criminals have found that people are a lot more likely to open and urgently respond to an email from a colleague or their boss, rather than a stranger.

If you receive an email that you are not certain is genuine, our advice is to #takefive and question uninvited approaches. If possible, contact the company directly (using the number on their website) or if it is an email that looks to be from your colleague/boss, simply go and check with them before you give away any sensitive financial information.

Neighbourhood Watch offers further highly useful advice on the signs that you have been sent a scam:

  • The sender’s email address doesn’t match the website address of the organisation it says it’s from. Roll your mouse pointer over the sender’s name to see its true address
  • The email doesn’t use your name – it says something like ‘Dear customer’ instead
  • There’s a sense of urgency, asking you to act immediately
  • There’s a prominent website link which may look at first glance like the proper address, but has one letter missing or is spelt wrong
  • There’s a request for personal information
  • There is poor grammar and spelling mistakes
  • The entire text of the email is contained within an image rather than the usual text format, and the image contains an embedded hyperlink to a bogus site. Again, roll your mouse pointer over the link to reveal its true destination. But don’t click it!

If you found this information useful, please share it with two people and join the City of London Police #Tell2 campaign to help raise awareness and prevent fraud.

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