FRAUD HELP DESK

THE DUTCH NATIONAL ANTI-FRAUD HOTLINE

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03 Jul 2018
How to spot suspicious links

When you use the internet a lot, you will encounter links everywhere: on websites, in emails and in apps. Often these links (hyperlinks) are very useful. However, unfortunately, there are also quite a few malicious links doing the rounds. Most of these are part of scams like phishing emails. Therefore, it’s very important for you to be able to distinguish a trustworthy link from a malicious one.

Check before you click

You can significantly reduce the risk of clicking on a poisonous link by being aware of the red flags that might tip you off. If you have any doubts, ask yourself the following four questions.

 


1. WHERE DID YOU SEE THE LINK?

You can usually click on links on websites without any problem. Links in emails, text messages or apps from unknown senders are a different matter. These links require a high degree of vigilance. If you receive any message asking you to log in on a website, then please open the website by entering the URL directly into your browser or via a bookmark. This way you always remain in control of the route to the site.
2. WHAT DOES THE LINK REFER TO?

Again, please only click on a link if you really think you have to. And before you do, check the link by hovering over it with your cursor. Most browsers show the real URL behind the link on the bottom left hand side of your screen. Ask yourself if the link fits in with the rest of the message.
Read here how to read links
(URLs).
Be extra suspicious if you encounter a shortened link. Scammers love these shortened links because they perfectly disguise their fake websites.
3. DO YOU KNOW THE SENDER PERSONALLY?

The more unfamiliar the sender, the more reason there is to treat a link as suspicious. Please note that scammers may pretend to be a company you are a customer of. Of course, there’s always more reason to trust an email coming from a family member or friend.

However, watch out for any links sent to you by people you know via WhatsApp. Scammers apply various tricks which make use of the trust you put in people you know. Here are some examples of these tricks.

4. IS THERE ANY URGENCY INVOLVED?

Reliable senders will allow you time to respond. So, if there’s any pressure on you to act urgently, then you can safely assume that the message is fake and the link should not be trusted.