A phishing email is a bogus email with harmful intent carefully designed to look like a legitimate request (or attached file) from a site or person you trust. Its purpose is to get you to give up confidential personal information or download something containing a virus.
The first thing to ask yourself is, “Do I know this person, and is this the type of thing I would expect to get from them?” If there is an attachment, “Do I expect this person to send me an attachment mentioned in this email?” If you are suspicious, don’t open the email or attachment. Contact the person directly. Delete anything you can’t confirm is legitimate.
Keep in mind, Washington State PTA will not ask you to transfer money, provide personal information, or provide banking information over email. Verify the identity of anyone who requests your personal information by using reliable, independent means. Never provide banking or confidential financial or personal information in response to a suspicious email or an unverified website or form. If you aren’t sure, please call and ask.
Often these emails look 100% legitimate and show up in the form of a PDF (scanned document) or a UPS or FedEx tracking number email, bank letter, Facebook alert, bank notification, etc. That’s what makes these so dangerous – they LOOK exactly like a legitimate email. So, how can you tell a phishing email from a legitimate one? There are a few telltale signs.
First, hover over the URL in the email (but DON’T CLICK!) to see the ACTUAL website URL it is trying to take you to. If there’s a mismatched or suspicious URL, delete the email immediately. It’s a good practice to go to the site directly (typing it into your browser) rather than clicking on the link to get to a site linked in an email.
Another telltale sign is poor grammar and spelling errors. An additional warning sign is that the email asks you to “verify” or “validate” your login or ask for personal information. Why would your bank need you to verify your account number? They should already have that information. And finally, if the offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.