Holiday Season = More Phishing Scams, Identity Theft Attempts, and Payout Hoaxes

During the holiday season there is typically a rise in phishing scams and attempts of identity theft. Be cautious during this time of year. Slow down and consider the actions you are taking online.

This season, OIT has specifically seen a rise in very targeted scams. These scams appear to come from an individual you know and request assistance in the form of wire payments and/or personal information of some form. Always speak to the parties involved before sharing personal information or giving money.

Here are the general warning signs of a phishing scam:

  • Urgent Language - Phishing attempts often use language meant to alarm. They contain threats, urging you to take immediate action. “You MUST click on the link below or your account will be canceled.”
  • The Greeting - If the message doesn't specifically address you by name, be wary. Fake messages use general greetings like “Dear eBay Member” or “Attention Citibank Customer” or no greeting at all.
  • URLs Don’t Match - Place your mouse pointer over the link in the email message. If the URL displayed in the window of your browser is not exactly the same as the text of the link provided in the message, DON'T CLICK THE LINK. It’s probably a fake. Sometimes the URLs do match and the URL is still a fake. Before you click, look for other clues in the message like the use of a secure connection (SSL – https://).
  • Avoid the Obvious - “Official” messages that contain misspellings, poor grammar and/or punctuation errors are dead-giveaways – assume those are fake. And, of course, if you don’t have a Wells Fargo credit card, for example, don’t respond to a request for information for card holders!
  • Request for Personal Information - If an email message asks you to provide your username, password, or bank account information by completing a form or clicking on a link within an email message, don’t do it. Legitimate companies will never ask you to provide that kind of information in an email message. Most legitimate messages will offer you an alternate way to respond like a phone number.
More information can be found at http://www.auburn.edu/oit/phishing.

Stay Safe Online, Happy Holidays, and War Eagle!

Last Updated: August 23, 2016