Logo of the Dutch government


This information is provided by

Digital Trust Center

Phishing is a type of internet fraud. Cybercriminals use phishing to steal personal information or passwords. You can become a victim of phishing if you, or someone else in your organisation, clicks on a bad link, opens a bad attachment, or reply to a phishing email. How do you recognise a malicious email? And what do you do if you are a victim of phishing?

What is phishing?

Phishing is everywhere. Everyone can become a victim. Phishing attacks come in all shapes and sizes. Sometimes it is a simple request for personal and login details. Sometimes it is a very targeted, intelligent and specific attack. The aim of each attack is to penetrate your organisation. It is often difficult to spot phishing, especially when it comes to targeted phishing attacks. Such attacks often seem to come from people you know, or explicitly mention names and information specific to you, the recipient. An example of this is the so-called CEO fraud, where phishing emails appear to come from a manager in your company.

How do I recognise a phishing email?

How do you know whether you can safely open an email? It is often very difficult to spot fake emails, especially when it comes to targeted attacks. Below you find advice to help you identify possible fake emails.
close all


Another type of phishing is sms-phishing, or 'smishing'. It is phishing via SMS (short message service) or messaging services such as WhatsApp or Telegram. This type of online fraud is on the rise. Criminal activities have moved into the digital domain. Now that smartphones are an important part of our (financial) activities, they are an interesting field of activity for cybercriminals. Read more about smishing (in Dutch).

How do I respond to phishing?

There are many different types of phishing. Each has different risks. Sometimes it involves stealing money, for example by looting bank details. In other cases, it is about obtaining sensitive information, personal data, or business secrets. A phishing attack can also be the first step in a more complex hacking attempt. That happens when cybercriminals want to gain access to your network, where they can cause great damage.

Steps to take after phishing

Are you dealing with phishing within your company or organisation? First, determine what type of phishing incident has occurred. Have any passwords been stolen? Has malware been installed? Have unwanted payments been authorised? Once you know that, you can take the next steps. You may already have an incident response plan that describes how to deal with this type of incident. If you do not have such a plan, a good next step is to delete the phishing email in question, so that no one can accidentally cause the same incident.


If passwords or other login details have been stolen, it is important to change them. Have you used this password in other places? Then change the password there as well.


Malware can sometimes be removed, but it is better not to take any chances and reinstall the system. Also find out whether the malware has spread further.


Payments can be reversed or withheld in some cases. Report these types of incidents to your bank quickly, so that they can watch for suspicious payments.

Data breach

If personal data has been stolen, changed, or deleted, you have a data breach. You may have to report this to the Dutch Data Protection Authority.

This information is provided by

Digital Trust Center
FAQPartnersContactAbout usDisclaimerPrivacy & CookiesAccessibilityOndernemersplein (Dutch) is an initiative of:Netherlands Chamber of Commerce, KVKNetherlands Enterprise Agency, RVOImmigration and Naturalisation Service, INDTax and Customs Administration, BelastingdienstGovernment.nlStatistics Netherlands, CBSNetherlands Vehicle Authority, RDWDigital Trust CenterEuropean Commission Point of Single is the Dutch Point of Single Contact for entrepreneurs.Accessibility level: W3C WAI-AA WCAG 2.1