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How to Spot an Email Phishing Scam

Photo by freestocks on Unsplash.
Photo by freestocks on Unsplash.

As many of us are now online and on several devices at home much more than usual these days, it’s important we remember how to spot digital phishing scams so that we can protect ourselves and not fall victim to them.

Recently, some individuals let me know that they received odd-sounding emails from what initially looked like me — I want to thank all of those who did, for being suspicious and reporting it.

These emails are tricky to detect because the attacker uses subtle language changes in an effort to elude email filters to engage in conversation with their target audience — namely, you.

Here are some quick giveaways that can help you realize the email is a phishing attempt (using an example of an email that was sent out using a variation of my name):


  • Email contains spelling mistakes and grammatical errors;
  • Email includes extra spaces and/or misplaced punctuation; and/or
  • Email contains slightly different spelling of sender’s name.

Here are some more general key tips for identifying phishing scams:

  • Be skeptical of each and every message/email you receive, especially when you are busy or rushed;
  • Examine the sender’s email: Does the email match the person sending you the message? Always check the email address at the top of the email matches the person sending you the message, and it’s an email you recognize;
  • Examine the link: Hover over (DON’T CLICK) the link on a desktop to see the destination or hold for a few seconds on mobile (DON’T TAP);
  • Be cautious on mobile devices. The small screen makes indicators hard to spot. Most emails can wait until you are on a desktop/laptop where it’s easier to take a closer look;
  • Verify the sender. Even if you know the sender and something seems off, reach out to that individual using his or her telephone number or another contact method listed in your contacts; and
  • Be vigilant: If you have received a phishing attempt, or suspect that you may be a target of a scam or fraud, report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre by telephone at 1-888-495-8501 or through their Fraud Reporting Centre. You can also report phishing to the institution that it appears to be from. For more information, please visit

— Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

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A Burlington COVID-19 Task Force has been created to help support our community through this unprecedented emergency — updates will be provided at

To report an incident of non-compliance with provincial emergency orders, please contact the Halton Regional Police Service COVID-19 Hotline: 905-825-4722.

We’ve also created a dedicated page to feature the local organizations and businesses that have inspired us during the COVID-19 pandemic by taking action to support our community in new and creative ways — head to


*Posted by John Bkila, Mayor’s Media and Digital Communications Specialist.

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