Phishing Scams on the Rise – How to Protect Yourself

23101019942_e7ce9f9a52_oPhishing scams are on the rise and we’ve also noticed our virus protection detecting a lot of threats in our incoming email. As recent victims of identity theft, we feel it’s important to arm the people we know and care about with as much information as possible to help prevent this from happening to them.

What is a phishing scam?

Phishing scams are typically fraudulent email messages appearing to come from legitimate enterprises such as an attorney, a service provider, or your bank. These messages usually direct you to a spoofed website or otherwise get you to divulge private information such as password, credit card, or other account updates. The perpetrators then use this private information to commit identity theft.

We have included an actual email example that was used to fool Amazon customers below.

Also, now that Tax season is upon us, we may begin to see email that appears IRS related. Please note that unless you initialized an email to the IRS, they will never reach out to you directly through email. The IRS has a page on their site that provides several examples of phony IRS communications.

To help with quick ‘red flag’ detection:

  • Does the senders email address coincide with the context of the message?
    • For example:, but the message is about a legal concern asks to click the link to download docs, or suggests money is owed.
  • What’s suspicious about this email?
    • A person you may or may not know is asking you to click a link for documents – hover over the link to see it’s true destination
    • The domain of the email address not the legitimate
    • A person you may or may not know is suggesting money is owed
  • Do I know who this sender is?
    • If so, but the email is questionable:
      • Without actually replying, click the Reply button and see if the original senders email address is in the “To” field. – again, do not actually reply to the sender.
    • If it’s a different email address, completely disregard the email
    • If it’s the same email address, but is still suspicious then disregard it
    • Another option is to simply call the person who sent you the email to verify what they sent you
  • Was this email sent only to you?
    • If not, do you know any of the other recipients?
      • Disregard any email that uses Bcc (blind copy) or has the senders name in the “To” field
    • Is the email salutation directed to you?
      • If not, and the email is suspicious, disregard it
      • If so, but your name is not typed correctly or with upper and lower case typing etiquette and the email is suspicious, disregard it
    • How is the grammar of the message?
      • Typos
      • Misused words
      • Proper punctuation
      • Upper and lower case etiquette

Additional Resources:

We’d like to provide you with resources to become more enlightened about your email security. Please take a few minutes to watch the YouTube video, and look over the articles provided below:

  1. This video found on YouTube is lightly entertaining, but more importantly provides great examples and tips for identifying fraudulent and malicious email:
  2. We found this great article on that gives 10-tips for spotting a phishing email:                                                                                          
  3. com – Three warning signs that email is malicious: htttp://

Actual example of Phishing email targeting Amazon customers:


 We hope this information is helpful. Please keep on the lookout for a future piece on your online security.

About CarolSawdey

I'm a Broker/Realtor in the San Ramon Valley. A trusted advisor in the local community: We help people buy and sell homes. We counsel them thoroughly. We negotiate to their advantage. We keep their stress to a minimum. And we love what we do!
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