Here are our best tips to protect yourself from phishing emails.
Everyone has already received an e-mail or text message thinking: something is not right. More and more, scammers are bombarding your mailbox with messages that appear to be authentic, but are only intended to scam you out of money. Here are the ultimate tips to protect yourself from phishing (e-mail) and smishing (text messaging).
A strange e-mail in your mailbox does happen frequently. A classic is the African prince who asks you to hold a huge sum of money for him. Obviously, you shouldn’t respond to that. Fortunately, most filters stop such spam messages before they even reach your mailbox.
Real or not?
But what if your bank emails to re-enroll you in online banking? Or the Flemish government informs you that you still get your taxes back and you have to click to arrange it? Hackers imitate such emails as well. In some cases they are almost indistinguishable from the real thing.
And yes, even messages from your bank or other official institutions are faked. Consequently, it all looks extremely official, so many do not doubt it and thus fall into the trap. Even cybersecurity experts are not always sure if an email is legitimate.
Moreover, we also communicate and receive documents more and more digitally, through our mailbox, so it is not illogical to receive such emails. Of course, you already have a good virus scanner and a spam filter, but even then many phishing emails slip through the cracks. So what should you do?
The ultimate tip: do the Doccle check
How can you be sure of the origin of an e-mail? Simple: with the help of Doccle. Doccle is a Belgian platform that takes care of your entire administration for you while guaranteeing your security. For example, if you receive an invoice, contract or paycheck via email, Doccle can give you absolute certainty about the sender. That’s because Doccle connects to a lot of legitimate companies. Only approved companies can access Doccle and thus send you their documents. You can find the full list of companies at https://doccle.be/en-be/companies-on-doccle/.
A second guarantee Doccle offers is that you can always verify an e-mail requesting payment or a document received through Doccle itself. Log on to the Doccle website, and go there to see if the document or message sent is indeed in your Doccle vault. If it is not, you may be dealing with fraud.
TIP: Did you know that Doccle also has a mobile app that you can use on your phone or tablet? Not only is that convenient on the go, but it offers even more security because only the app can send you notifications. Thus, you are 100% sure of the origin of received documents and notifications.
Finally, if you have questions about suspicious messages and emails, you can always contact us as well.
Tip: Who is the sender?
The first and perhaps most important check you should do is to find out who the mail is coming from. To do this, you need to look closely at the sending address of the email, not just the sending name. A good example is this (fake) email from Fluvius. The sending name is Fluvius, but the sending address is firstname.lastname@example.org. That’s a mail address Fluvius would never use, especially the part that comes after the @. After all, the domain name e-mail.com is too generic. A much more logical choice would be the mail address email@example.com.
But even then, you don’t have 100% certainty. Because the very smartest fraudsters can also fake the sending address, or even use it legitimately if the sender’s mailbox were hacked! If you are still in doubt, go to the next tip.
Tip: where do the links go?
You can usually recognize a typical phishing email by obvious language errors or strange sentence structures. But what if the content and any images appear to come perfectly from the original source, and the sending address does not raise any questions either? Then check the various links contained in the e-mail: not by clicking on them, but by hovering over them. Do the links go to suspicious web addresses, especially domain names outside Belgium? Then you have to be extra vigilant. Extra tip: in many mail programs you can display the source code of an e-mail. Look for the URLs in it to check where they want to send you.