What does an example phishing email look like?

Phishing emails are emails that attempt to steal your personal information by pretending to be a trustworthy source, such as a known company (Amazon) or a Governmental Body (HMRC). The following are ways to identify if an email is a legitimate email, or if it is a phishing email.

  1. Copied Organisation name

Phishing emails often contain names of organisations that have been copied from their websites.  The aim is to make them look as genuine as possible.  

  1. Generic Greeting

Phishing emails often start with generic phrases, rather than a personalised one such as your name. 

In this example the email is addressed ‘Dear TaxPayer’ which could refer to anybody.

  1. Grammatical errors

Phishing emails can often have grammatical errors, poor sentence construction and incorrect spellings. 

  1. Request for personal information

Phishing emails will try and trick you into entering personal information such as your username and passwords or financial information. 

  1. Embedded website address

An embedded website address is where you see a word or sentence in an email that you are being directed to click on.  In phishing emails, the wording doesn’t match the link address.

In this example you are being directed to ‘claim your tax’ however if you were to hover your cursor over the link it displays an entirely different link. Genuine websites from this organisation would end ‘Gov.uk’.   

  1. Urgent or time sensitive

Many phishing emails try and encourage you to act immediately to prevent you from investigating whether the email is genuine or not. They hope you’ll act immediately before you have chance to consider what you are doing.


If you still aren't sure about the email, you can also email the organisation or person the email is supposed to be from (do not reply to the possible phishing email) to confirm if they sent it.

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