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Clever phishing email in my inbox: Can you spot the 7 signs that it's fake?

Just because the iCloud hack is behind us doesn't mean criminals are going to stop trying to break into your personal accounts. Believe me; I just received a bogus email from "Apple" at the studio that tried to get me to give up my account information.

The email looks similar to phishing scams we've seen in the past. It's simply states that Apple needs me to complete "a short and brief step" to validate my account. It also warns me that a failure to do so will result in the suspension of my Apple ID. The link in the email will actually redirect you to a site in Zambia. Last I checked, Apple doesn't host any of its sites there.

If you get an email like this, be sure to stay away from it and don't click on any links or give out any of your personal or other account information. It's likely a scam looking to capitalize on the recent iCloud hack fear and paranoia over celebrities' hacked accounts.

If you're worried about your iCloud account being hacked, Apple has put new security measures in place to help keep your information safe. Click here to learn all about them. 

But how can you tell if an email is legit or a scam? There's actually several obvious signs throughout this email that are easy to spot if you know what you're looking for.

Can you spot all the signs of a scam?

apple phishing email

It reads:

Dear Customer,

We need to ask you to complete a short and brief step to securing and validating your account information.

Click here to complete validation

Failure to complete out validation process will result in a suspension of your Apple ID.

We take every step needed to automatically validate our users, unfortunately in your case we were unable to. The process only take a couple of minutes and will make sure there is no interruption in your account.

Wondering why you got this email?

This email was sent automatically during routine security checks. We are not completely satisfied with your account information and require you to update your account to continue using our services uninterrupted.

For more information, see our FAQ.


Apple Customer Service

apple email phishing

  1. The From address. The From address should come from Apple, not Apple Inc and would have a return address with an official Apple email address that ends in apple.com, not the one they have there.
  2. The subject line. This subject line isn't very informative. Whether you recently changed your password or Apple has a major security issue, it is going to be much more specific in the subject line to let you know what's going on. Note: The [Bulk] part is actually something my company spam filter adds to some messages. It won't necessarily show up on your email.
  3. The greeting is all wrong. When you receive an email from Apple, it will include a greeting using the full name you have listed on your account.
  4. " ... brief step to securing and validating your account ... " You can be sure that Apple takes the time to proofread emails before they send them out to customers. Grammar errors like this are a sure-fire sign that something is wrong.
  5. Links. The in-body link on "complete validation" should be a huge giveaway. No company talking about a security problem would include a link in an email. Instead, it would tell you to visit Apple's site and log in to your account. Then, it would include instructions on where to go to fix the problem. That's it.
  6. More specific information. When Apple emails you about your Apple ID, it includes exactly which Apple ID in the body of the email by listing the email address associated with the account. The generic "your Apple ID"  means the sender doesn't actually know anything about the account in question.
  7. Footer. If you look down at the company information in the footer, you'll notice a few problems. First, the copyright in front of Apple Inc. says 2013. Any Apple email you've received this year will obviously say 2014. Also, the company address is listed as "Infinite Loop" when in fact Apple's address is "1 Infinite Loop".
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