We are often told not to open “suspicious links” when we receive a strange email from someone we don’t recognize. But how do you know if a link is suspicious? We’re going to over a couple easy tips that will help you recognize the red flags of a suspicious link.

How phishing works

Phishing occurs when scammers create web pages or emails from what appears to be well-known and trusted businesses (like Netflix or your bank). The goal is to trick you into sharing sensitive data, such as credit card numbers, bank account information, social insurance numbers and passwords that will be used to commit fraud.

Phishy links or attachments

Phishing emails often include a link or attachment that will take you to an unknown website or begin a download. Clicking a link in a phishing email could expose your personal information to the scammer or make your device vulnerable to malware. It’s important never to click on any links or open attachments if you suspect the email may be a phishing attempt. 

How do you know if a link is suspicious?

  • The email is asking for personal info. Always be wary of emails from financial institutions, Internet/cell phone service providers or anyone asking you to provide personal info and then provides a link to do so. If in doubt, call the company directly and ask them to verify the email.
  • The hover trick. Sometimes scammers make it appear as though a link is taking you somewhere legitimate (example: www.netflix.com), but what it’s really doing is taking you somewhere else. An easy trick to spot a suspicious link is by hovering your mouse over it. A little box should appear that tells you where the link is actually taking you. Test it out on the link we shared above.
  • It’s from a friend, but it’s out of character. Malware or phishing attempts can even come from your friend’s email addresses if their computers have been hijacked. If the email seems out of character or a little odd, don’t open any links or download any attachments – contact your friend and find out if they actually sent it.

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About Consumer Protection BC

We are responsible for regulating specific industries and certain consumer transactions in British Columbia. If your concern is captured under the laws we enforce, we will use the tools at our disposal to assist you. If we can’t help you directly, we will be happy to provide you with as much information as possible. Depending on your concern, another organization may be the ones to speak to; other times, court or legal assistance may be the best option. Explore our website at www.consumerprotectionbc.ca.