Help! I Opened A Phishing Email Or Text

Phishing emails

Phishing scams generally fall into one of two types - links to fake websites that try to steal your personal details, or malicious attachments that contain viruses and other malware.

All of us can easily get caught out by fake emails or text messages from time to time. Below we have detailed advice for what to do next if you've opened a phishing email or clicked on a suspicious link.

For help on identifying whether the email or text that you're concerned about was fake then see our guide here on how to spot phishing emails. If in doubt, always follow the tips below.

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If you opened an attachment in a phishing email...

A virus infected attachment

An unexpected attachment - likely to be loaded with viruses!

A common type of phishing email are ones with malicious attachments that are infected with viruses and other malware.

These might be disguised as an invoice, a delivery note, or something else that is designed to encourage you to open it.

The file may even have been crafted to look legitimate when you open them so as to minimise suspicion - just because they open normally & look like the document they're claiming to be doesn't mean that they're not fake.

There's several indicators you could look for to confirm your suspicions of it being infected (for example if a message appeared as you opened it asking you to "Enable Macros"), but to be safe it's best to just always assume the worst - and follow the steps below.

Check your computer for viruses

A virus scan

The most important step to take if you ever open one of these attachments is to check your device for viruses - follow our guide to removing computer viruses. Make sure you follow the Recovery steps in Section 3 on that page too, including checking that your all your software is up to date.

Our guide has full details of what do, however as a quick link the following antivirus manufacturers make free software available that will perform a one-off virus scan of your computer:

It's also always a good idea to re-run the virus scan after a couple of days as well - if the virus is new then it can take a couple of days for antivirus programs to catch up.

Delete the email and attachment

Delete the email and attachment

Keeping the email won't do any harm to your computer if you never touch it again, but to be really safe you should delete it (and any copies of the attachment if you saved them). This will help prevent any accidental opening of the attachment in the future, for example by a family member who stumbles across it.

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