Five Tips for Spotting an Email Scam

Thursday 10/13/2022

Phishing scams are not a new phenomenon, but with the increasing innovation among technology, these fraudulent emails have put college students and employees at high risk. In honor of October being National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, knowing how to spot a fraudulent email, whether it is about a job opportunity or a student housing offer, can make our overall FSU community safer.  

Phishing emails are sent to recipients with the intent of making the recipient perform a certain action. The attacker may use specific techniques to make the email appear genuine—using links, attachments or login requests to get the recipient to navigate onto an unsafe site. With proper education, you can use these tips to spot phishing emails. 

1. Emails demanding urgent action 

Hackers typically use this to rush recipients into action without much thought. Emails demanding urgent action or a time-sensitive opportunity are typically fraudulent. 

2. Emails with bad grammar and spelling 

Many credible companies use spell-checking tools when sending out emails. When an email has an excess of bad grammar or spelling errors, the company or person typically is not credible. 

3. Suspicious attachments 

Many companies use internal collaboration tools to store documents, on sites like Microsoft SharePoint, OneDrive or Dropbox. Internal emails with attachments should be approached with caution, especially if the attachment has an unfamiliar extension. 

4. Emails requesting login credentials 

Emails originating from an unexpected sender that ask for any sensitive information, like login credentials or payment information should be treated very cautiously. Reputable companies will never ask for this information via email. To be extra safe, navigate to websites by typing them in your web browser or visiting one of your bookmarks rather than clicking links in emails. 

5. Emails that sound too good to be true 

Emails that incentivize anything with a reward of some nature, or just generally sound too unrealistic, are usually signs of a phishing email.  

Anyone who encounters fraudulent emails like this should report the email to to prevent others from potentially falling into these traps.