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How to spot phishing emails in Outlook?

Author: Amanda Li Last Modified: 2022-08-12

Many people see phishing and junk emails as the same, but as a matter of the fact, although all phishing is considered junk or spam, but not all junk is phishing. The main difference between the two is in the intent of the sender. The sender of most junk emails aims at hawking products and services by sending unsolicited emails to bulk lists. While phishing is a scam which aims at tricking recipients into sharing sensitive data or infecting victims' systems with malware.

Spot phishing emails in Outlook with common signs

A phishing email can be dangerous for your personal information and money. To identify an email if it is phishing, please check if the message has any of the following common signs:

  • Inconsistencies in email addresses, links & domain names
    Phishing emails are usually disguised as official communication from legitimate senders a user may trust. You can check sender's actual address and the address on the "From" address if they match; Hover over the link that is embedded in the message, but don't click, to see if the domain names match as shown below. Note that a string of random letters of numbers usually doesn't look like a company's web address.
  • Request for credentials, payment information or other sensitive information
    Phishing emails are unsolicited and might provide a link or attachment and ask you to provide sensitive information. Remember that most companies will not send you emails asking for passwords, credit card information, or tax numbers, nor will they send you a link that require you to login.
  • Urgent calls to action or threats
    Phishing emails often claim that you must take immediate action to get a reward or avoid a penalty. Creating a false sense of urgency is a common tactic in phishing attacks and scams, so that you don't think too much or consult others.
  • Grammar errors and misspelled words
    Professional companies and organizations always make sure that the messages they deliver are high-quality and professional. If the email has obvious spelling or grammatical errors, it may be a scam.
  • Generic greeting
    Companies you deal with should know your name and usually call you by your name. Phishing emails typically use generic salutations such as "Dear Sir or Madam," or “Dear customer.” that's a warning sign that it's probably not your bank or shopping site.
  • Suspicious attachments
    The attachments included in unsolicited emails should be opened with caution. Typically, authentic institutions don’t randomly send you emails with attachments, but instead direct you to download documents or files on their own website.

If you see phishing emails, please do not ignore or delete the spam emails. Instead, report the junk and phishing emails to Microsoft to prevent this from happening in the future.

Spot malicious emails in Outlook with Check Malicious Emails option

Kutools for Outlook enables you to easily spot a malicious email by adding a Malicious mark to the beginning of the email subject as shown below. To get the malicious alert for your messages, please follow the steps below. Note that the Check Malicious Emails option relies on Kutools for Outlook, if you don’t have Kutools installed, click here to download and try with no limit for 60 days.

1. On Kutools tab, click on Options.

2. In the pop-up Options dialog box, switch to Security tab, check the Check malicious emails option, and then click on OK.

Note: You can add exceptions in the Check Malicious Exceptions dialog box as shown below by clicking on the Exceptions button if there are links in your email messages you never want Kutools for Outlook to mark as malicious.

From now on, if someone send you an email with suspicious links, you will see the [Malicious] mark before the email subject. Please double-check if it’s a phishing email with the common signs as shown in the first part of this tutorial. If so, report it to Microsoft to prevent this from happening in the future.

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