Phishing is the attempt to obtain sensitive information such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, often for malicious reasons, by disguising as a trustworthy entity in an electronic communication.
Phishing emails usually appear to come from a well-known organization and ask for your personal information such as credit card number, social security number, account number or password. Phishing attempts often appear to come from sites, services and companies with which you do not even have an account.
Your best defense against these email scams remains knowing how to recognize them:
- Phishing emails do not only begin with a generic greeting such as "Dear Client". They can also address you directly by name or email address.
- Beware of emails requiring your “immediate action” in order to prevent a service from being shut down unless you log on “now” or enter your personal, financial or credit card information. These are classic phishing email techniques and should always be viewed skeptically;
- Be suspicious of all unsolicited emails that request personal information, even if you recognize the name of the sender. Though that email may contain your name and other information that applies to you, it may still be a scam;
- Don’t be fooled by emails that offer “too good to be true” enticements,
- Email scams regularly take advantage of timing and promote fraudsters’ phony websites:
- when tragic incidents occur, fake charity sites pop up;
- when “juicy” stories make the news, websites promising the latest pictures or information quickly surface;
- for sporting events, phony websites offer amazing deals on seating;
- on occasions such as tax season, emails try to scare you into entering personal information on a fake website;
- for annual holidays, fraudsters’ websites promise “unheard of” shopping deals.
The goal of all of these scams is to get you to click on a link or access the fraudsters’ website. The result could be an automatic attempt to secretly load malicious code to your computer. Or the email or website could contain convincing tactics to get you to enter your credit card or other personal information that could be used to commit financial fraud against you.
If you feel that you have been phished, report it! Immediately contact ITS for assistance at 4441.