INDIANAPOLIS – If you’re an Apple user or you often shop on Amazon, an email from one of those companies will probably catch your eye.

That’s what savvy scammers are hoping for because they love to impersonate familiar brands in order to get you to trust them. Virtually every scam depends on tricking a victim into trusting a crook and those crooks have figured out that familiarity can be a powerful tool for that.

Cyber security company CloudFlare just released its 2023 email threat report and after examining the more than 110 billion threats CloudFlare blocks every day, it concluded two things:

First, email filters are not doing a good job. 89% of unwanted emails slipped through some kind of security check.

Second, scammers are watching behind the scenes to see what kinds of emails we’re all receiving. That’s when they send their phishing emails designed to look like something similar.

According to CloudFlare, these are the top 10 companies being impersonated by scammers right now:

  • Microsoft
  • World Health Organization
  • Google
  • SpaceX
  • Salesforce
  • Apple
  • Amazon
  • T-Mobile
  • YouTube
  • MasterCard

It’s easy to understand why these names made the list. A carefully crafted email that looks like it’s from Microsoft could target up to 25 million users every day.

Scammers are also getting better at impersonating the most popular social media platforms like Facebook, X, Instagram, TikTok and more. 

You may have received the one from the “Facebook Standards Page” that claims you’ve violated their terms and your account is frozen. It’s totally fake. 

While impersonation scams are nothing new, artificial intelligence is making them look more realistic than ever. Experts say you can’t depend on looking for low-quality images or weird typos anymore. A.I. is helping scammers create emails so realistic, it can be hard to spot them with the naked eye.

That’s why security experts say you should be very hesitant to click on a link you get in an email.  If you get an email from YouTube about changes to your account, disregard the link in the email and go directly to the website to look for information. That way you know you’re on the official website and not a copycat designed to install malware or grab your sensitive information.

The good news, according to CloudFlare, is that A.I. could one day work against the crooks who are using it by identifying phishing tools and counteracting them. For now, it’s best to use your own caution.

The FTC has a whole webpage about spotting and avoiding phishing scams.  You can find that here.