How to recognize, avoid and report suspicious emails

In an increasingly digital world, cybercrime is pervasive with approximately 15 billion spam emails crossing the internet daily. Phishing, a common cybercrime, is an online scam that collects user data through fraudulent emails and can result in identity theft. These emails are disguised as messages from reputable individuals or businesses and are difficult to identify. About 30 percent of phishing emails are opened and about 90 percent of data breaches are a result of phishing.

Follow these tips to learn how to detect, protect yourself from and report suspicious emails.

Signs of a suspicious email

  • Impersonal, generic greetings such as “Dear Customer”
  • Grammar or spelling mistakes
  • Unsolicited attachments or links
  • Requests for your sensitive information
  • The sender is an individual or business that you do not recognize or have an account with
  • The email uses a tone of urgency

How to protect yourself

  • Never provide unsolicited personal information such as your date of birth, home address, phone number, social security number, work history, family members’ names, license and passport numbers or car information.
  • Never provide unsolicited financial information such as insurance policy numbers, loan numbers, bank account information, credit/debit card numbers or personal identification numbers.
  • Protect your passwords – it is unlikely that a credible institution would ask you to verify your account information over email. Contact the institution directly using the phone number provided on their website.
  • Use a personal firewall program to prevent phishers from invading your computer and phone.
  • Use authentication tools to provide additional security to your accounts, such as a one-time passcode sent to a mobile device, answers to security questions or facial recognition.
  • Before clicking on hyperlinks, hover your cursor over the URL to reveal the full address. If you don’t recognize the URL as a trusted source, don’t click it.

Get proactive to stay safe

  • Report any suspicious emails to your email provider and network administrators. Suspicious emails can also be reported to the Federal Trade Commission.
  • If you revealed any financial information, contact your financial institution immediately.
  • Change your passwords regularly and be sure to use a mix of characters.
  • Set up fraud alerts on your credit files.
  • Monitor your accounts for any changes, unusual charges on your bills or issues with your bank cards.

Are you fully protected against cybercrime? Talk to your independent agent today to review your policy and discuss The Hanover’s cyber coverage offerings to see what is right for you.



Federal Trade Commission

North Carolina Department of Information Technology

Office of the Comptroller of the Currency

United States Attorney’s Office Northern District of Georgia