Phishing is a form of online scamming using fake e-mails, websites or messages. How can you identify those fake e-mails and how can you distinguish them from real messages? Smart cybercriminals can really make you doubt. They try to abuse something you believe in or someone you trust. They also often try to use fear to achieve their ends. Do not get tricked!
How to recognise suspicious messages?
Did you get a suspicious e-mail or phone call? Then answer these questions:
- Is it unexpected?
You received a message for no reason: you did not buy anything, have not had contact with them for a long time, etc. Investigate further.
- Is it urgent?
Stay calm: did you really get a first reminder to pay? Do you know that 'friend in need'?
- Do you know the person who sent the e-mail?
Check the e-mail address, and also check for spelling errors. However, beware: a legitimate e-mail address is no guarantee.
- Do you find the request strange?
An official body will never ask you for your password, bank details or personal details via e-mail, SMS or over the telephone.
- Where does the link you need to click on lead to?
Hover over the link with your mouse. Is the domain name, the word before “.be”, “.com”, “.eu”, “.org”, etc. and before the very first slash "/", really the organization’s name?
- For the link www.safeonweb.be/tips, the domain is safeonweb.
- For the link www.safeonweb.tips.be/safeonweb, 'tips' is the domain and you are redirected to another website.
- Is there a QR code in the message?
If a QR code is shown, check carefully which website it refers to. When you scan the code, you will see the url. Check the domain as described above.
- Are you being personally addressed?
Be wary of messages using general and vague titles, or your e-mail address to address you.
- Does the message contain many linguistic errors?
Although seasoned cybercriminals tend to use language correctly, language errors or a foreign language can indicate a suspicious message.
- Is the message in your Spam / Junk folder?
If so, be extra careful. You can also mark suspicious messages as Spam or Junk to warn others.
- Is someone trying to make you curious?
Everyone would be curious about messages with a link reading "Look what I read about you ..." or "Are you in this picture?", but do not be tricked.
- Are you asked to make a payment?
If you are asked to make a payment that you are not expecting, always be careful. Is the account number the same number you usually use to pay that organisation or person? If not, do not make the payment. Often phishing emails use foreign account numbers or ask to make payments through a crypto wallet. This is suspicious.
If you are in doubt about a payment, check with your bank first, or with the organisation claiming the payment. Do not do this through the contact details in the mail, but go directly to the website of the organisation itself.
Examples of fake messages
What to do if you get a suspicious message?
- Don't click on the link in a suspect message and don't open any attachments.
- You can forward fraudulent e-mails to [email protected].
- You can also send suspicious text messages. To do this, simply take a screenshot and send it to [email protected].
- The content of your report will then be processed automatically.
Have you clicked on a suspicious link?
- If you have, leave the fields blank and cancel all interaction.
- NEVER give out personal codes.
- If you have provided a password that you use elsewhere, change it immediately.
- If you have clicked on a link that opens a website where you have to submit your bank details, first check that it is actually your bank's website. If you have the slightest doubt, do not make the payment.
- Notice strange messages being sent on your behalf? Warn your contacts that you have forwarded them a fake message.
Have you been scammed?
- If you have lost money or been the victim of extortion, we advise you to report it to the police. You can report it to the local police where you live.
- Contact your bank and/or Card Stop on 078 170 170 if you have passed on banking information, if money has disappeared from your bank account, or if you have transferred money to a fraudster. This way, any fraudulent transactions can be blocked.
The Safeonweb browser extension
Install the Safeonweb extension in your browser. It will warn you when you visit an unsafe website and when it is dangerous to enter your data.
Email address suspicious@
Forward suspicious message to [email protected]. From all the messages you send to [email protected], we investigate suspicious links. If a less attentive internet user clicks on that link, they will get a clear warning not to surf to that page. More info on this e-mail address can be found here.
The Safeonweb app
We collect information on common suspicious messages and share it via the Safeonweb app. This way you are quickly informed when suspicious messages are circulating. You can find the Safeonweb app in the official appstores (App Store and Google Play Store).
The Safeonweb e-learning
Learn how to recognise fraudulent messages: Find out more at surfwithoutworries.safeonweb.be