How to React to a Phishing Email

Recognising a phishing email isn’t always obvious. Sometimes, they look really genuine, and even carry the trademark and logo of the company they are trying to guise. Sometimes they also seem trustworthy, because of the way the text is written. However, hackers are becoming more intelligent about how they target customers. They will gain a company’s data such as details of their past customers, then contact them in a way that the customer wouldn’t question.

Here are some common signs of a phishing email:

  1. The email contains a link which they ask you to click. It might say something like, ‘Your account has been suspended because of suspicious activity! Please click here to open it again.’ The email may come with your bank’s logo and registered office and seem very genuine.
  2. The message contains a mismatched URL, or has poor spelling in the topic/body of the email.
  3. It seems too good to be true. It might offer a really good deal on something, asking for an upfront fee. This is exactly the case of a phishing attack in 2015, with fraudsters using the guide of online loan company Wonga SA, who sent texts and emails claiming to be from the loan provider and that they could get a great deal on a personal loan, so long as they paid an ‘upfront fee.’ Wonga have clarified they would never ask for an upfront fee like this, and reacted quickly by setting up a fraud hotline for customers to call if they seemed concerned.

When you think you may have opened a phishing email, some of us don’t know how to deal with it. Do we ignore it? Do we send it to our junk emails? Do we reply saying we know that it’s a hoax?

  1. One of the first things you might consider doing is reporting the phishing email. You might want to contact the company directly to tell them that you have received a suspicious email. Like with Wonga, there could be a dedicated hotline for you to call to discuss your concerns with them.
  2. Call the genuine company telephone number, not the one that was in the email. The email probably contains a phony line.
  3. You may want to seek advice if you think your details may be compromised. Websites like can help you out.
  4. It is important that you DO NOT respond to any email. Simply replying with an angry message only validates to the hackers that your email address is real and they could use this against you in the future.
  5. Remember you should also avoid downloading any attachments that the email has within it. These could contain viruses.
  6. After reporting the email, you may then want to block the sender from your email account. You can do this quite easily in the settings menu of your email account. Add them to your block list, and delete the email.
  7. Be cautious. Don’t think it won’t happen to you. There are thousands of phishing emails out there, some more easy to identify than others. Be vigilant and seek advice if you’re unsure.
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Alan Fein

Alan Fein is a versatile old-school business writer, who covers a range of business-related news, especially when it relates to finance.