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Phone & Email Phishing Scams [Hoaxes & Scams]
posted: 07/19/2012    updated: 11/25/2014

Recently we have seen several phishing emails targeting academic departments. Members of an academic department are contacted via email and asked to provide private lessons (English, Music, etc.) for an individual. The scammer negotiates a fee and indicates they will send a check for an amount higher than the agreed upon fee. The target of the scam is asked to cash the check and forward wire the additional money to a third party. Do not respond to these requests.

At the heart of many cyber attacks are criminals attempting to fool you out of your money or trick you into giving them your personal information such as:

  • Account passwords
  • Credit card numbers
  • Bank Account information
  • Access to your computer and personal data

These scams often come as fraudulent e-mails, called phishing, and often appear to come from a person or company you trust, such as your friend or your bank.

More recently there have been phone scams pretending to be a computer technician from a trusted company, such as Microsoft, who claim to have detected that your computer is behaving abnormally, and possible infected with a virus. Throughout the course of the conversation they will overwhelm you with technical terms, take you through complicated steps that “prove” you are infected, and ultimately:

  • Convince you to pay them money
  • Take control of your computer
  • Harvest your personal information

Protecting Yourself:

  • When someone asks for your information either over the phone or by email, be suspicious. Do you know the company? If not, it’s probably a scam. If yes, tell them it’s not a good time to talk. Ask for a name and contact information and explain you will call them back. Verify their contact information on the organizations websites, and contact the organization through known contact methods
  • If the person is creating a sense of urgency, or creating tremendous pressure for you to take immediate action, it is most likely a scam
  • Do not rely on caller-ID or email addresses alone to authenticate the caller. It is relatively easy for criminals to spoof this information
  • Never give your password to anyone over the phone or in email.
  • Never give any organization sensitive information that they should already possess.

If you have any questions, please contact the Help Desk.

ITS Help Desk
Academic Commons - I.D. Weeks Room 104
On Campus: 605.658.6000

Online Help Desk Request Form

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