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October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month

Protecting your data from email scams and schemes.

Hands typing on keyboard

Defending against email fraud takes knowledge and diligence. Do you know the signs?

At The Gerken Companies, we’re all responsible for doing everything possible to maintain confidentiality, integrity, and data availability. That means being aware and cautious of what we receive via email. So, in honor of Cybersecurity Awareness Month, here are some simple tips for avoiding phishing scams and other email schemes.

Watch for and recognize common signs of email fraud.

  • Urgent or emotionally appealing language, such as “Reply to this email ASAP” or “Please help those affected by the latest disaster.”
  • Requests to send personal or financial information, including “Pay this invoice now” or “Sign up for a financial consultation.
  • Unexpected attachments, invoices, or instructions
  • Shortened URLs containing or tiny in the address. While URLs shortened using and are often legitimate, cybercriminals frequently use them to mask fraudulent URLs and redirect you to malicious sites. If you see a shortened URL you don’t trust, manually type it into your browser to see if it is a legitimate site rather than clicking it. Remember: typing a URL won’t launch malware, but clicking on a suspicious link might.
  • Email addresses that don’t match the supposed sender or contain errors in the sender’s account name.
  • Messages containing poor grammar, lack of punctuation, typos, and misspelled words.

Resist and report.

  • Don’t click on any links or attachments, as doing so will often initiate the installation of malware.
  • Don’t reply to the email if you suspect its authenticity. If you know the supposed sender, send the person a new email asking about the message you received, or call them at their known number.
  • Forward a suspicious email to IT if you want us to verify its legitimacy. We are happy to look closely at the email contents and can often determine its validity without clicking links or attachments.
  • Report the email using the “Report Message” button in Outlook.


  • Delete the message after reporting phishing attempts.
  • Do not reply.
  • Do not click links or attachments.
  • NOTE: Please do not click “unsubscribe,” as that action will often contain malware that will begin installing when you click.

You can help do your part in our cybersecurity defense by thinking twice before opening attachments or clicking links and consistently reporting suspicious messages.