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Receiving a phony email is becoming more common in recent times and it can be worrying deciding whether the email is real or a scam. The last thing anybody wants to be doing is giving out personal information to cybercriminals.
There are a few things to look out for when you receive a potential scam email if you are not sure whether it’s real or not.1) The display name that is shown in your preview panel is not always the actual name. This can be manipulated to show the sender’s email address differently to what it actually is. To check what the sender’s email address is, simply hover your mouse over any part of the email address. If the name doesn’t look familiar or sounds somewhat strange - don’t open the email. 2) Banks and most legitimate companies will not ask for personal information via email. If you are requested to “click a link” to enter your details, this may be a scam. It is always worth phoning the company where you believe the email to be coming from to see if they do ask for personal information via email, for peace of mind. 3) Beware of threatening or urgent wording in the subject line. This is a way of enticing you to open the email and is a common phishing tactic. An example could be “Your account is being suspended”. 4) Do not click on attachments unless you are confident you know what it is and who it has come from as this is another common phishing tactic. Often attachments can contain malicious malware or viruses. 5) Check to see if there are spelling and grammatical mistakes within the email. Professional companies spend time using a proof-reader to check their communications. If there’s quite a few spelling mistakes, it’s likely that the email has come from a different source. 6) If you are not sure on the sender and you suspect it to be a scam email - do not reply or contact the sender in any way.
A message from the HMRC states that they never initiate contact with any taxpayer using social media or email, and certainly never attempts to get credit card or other personal information this way.
"Receiving an official-seeming communication from the government is scary, so your potential customers will like being reassured that these are not real messages from HMRC”
At the end of the day, if in doubt, do not open the email. Check with the company that you suspect the email has come from and take necessary precautions to protect your personal data as well as your digital devices.