Published May 23, 2019
Phishing attempts—fraudulent emails designed to trick people into revealing sensitive personal information—are especially insidious because they often claim to be from a trusted source, like a colleague, or your bank… or your university.
Because scams routinely impersonate people or institutions we trust, people may be more cautious about the messages they receive, even from trusted sources. This vigilance is generally a good thing—however, if you’re responsible for sending out important information for your department or organization, you might find it more difficult to get your message across.
Here are a few things you can do to avoid giving your emails the appearance of a phishing attempt, and give your recipients confidence that your communication is legitimate.
If you’re notifying customers of an important change or asking them to take action on something, publish the relevant details on a prominent part of your official website.
That way, you can refer them to an official source where they can easily find the information, verify that it is accurate and take the necessary next steps.
Likewise, avoid using any links in your email that point to unofficial, or third-party, sites or information. If you’re using third-party tools, like an app for taking surveys, link to the app on your official website, and direct your audience there instead.
Whenever possible, direct your recipients to the information they need using words, rather than web links, which can be easily falsified and used as a tool for phishing.
While phishing emails can, and often do, impersonate real people, it’s important to include contact information for a person who can provide more information and answer questions.
In addition to being helpful, this allows readers to check your official website to ensure the contact information matches a real person associated with your organization.
Phishing emails are known for their spelling and grammatical errors. Part of sending professional communications is taking the time and effort to ensure that your message is thoughtfully conveyed in a clear way that is respectful of and appropriate for your audience.
You can ensure your communications seem professional—and combat any suspicion about the legitimacy of their source in the process—by making sure they:
It is always a good idea to education yourself, your colleagues and your audiences on how to avoid phishing attempts and other scams. You can see samples of real phishing attempts on the UBIT website, and find out how to recognize a phishing attempt and report suspected phishing attempts sent to your UBmail address.