Avoiding Phishing Scams

What are phishing scams?

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Have you received emails with similar messages? They are a scam commonly referred to as phishing. Phishing is a criminal activity where a malicious website/email falsely claims to be a legitimate authority and requests information (credit card numbers, bank account information, Social Security numbers, passwords, or other sensitive information) for the purpose of account or identity theft.

Reputable organizations will never request personal information in such a manner. You should be suspicious of any e-mail messages that direct you to websites requesting personal and/or financial information. Such links lead to bogus websites masquerading as legitimate.

Notifications sent to you by e-mail should be verified through an alternate source - one not provided in the e-mail itself. A valid source would be the customer service number provided on your credit card or financial statements sent by the postal service.

Important notes to consider:

  • No one at NJIT will ever ask for your password.
  • Never reply to email messages that ask for passwords or personal information.
  • Never click links in suspect email messages. Phishers often make links look like they go to one site, but actually send you to a different site.
  • Never call phone numbers in suspect email messages. Phishers use advanced VoIP technology that can forward such phone calls to locations outside of the area code dialed. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card.
  • Be cautious about viewing attachments or downloading files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them.
  • Review the information at NJIT's Virus & Malware Protection Center.
  • Never send your passwords, personal, or financial information via email.
  • Frequently review financial statements to check for unauthorized charges.
  • Be mindful of the information in your credit report. You are allowed to request such a report free once every 12 months via AnnualCreditReport.com.
  • Phishing emails often contain misspelled words and grammatical errors.
  • If an email is in your junk or spam folder, it’s there for a reason
  • Always remember to hover over a link to see its true destination. In most browsers and web email clients, it appears at the bottom of the window. Here is an example.

Test your Phishing IQ with these practice quizzes to test your knowledge:

https://www.opendns.com/phishing-quiz/ 

http://www.sonicwall.com/phishing/phishing-quiz-question.aspx

How to avoid falling victim to phishing scams

Don't reply

If you get an email or pop-up message that asks for personal or financial information, do not reply or click links in the message. Reputable organizations never ask for this information via email. If you are concerned about your account, contact the organization mentioned in the email using a telephone number you know to be genuine (such as the number on your credit card or financial statements), or open a new Internet browser window and manually type in the organization's web address. Never cut and paste the link from the message into your Internet browser - phishers often make links look like they go to one site, but actually send you to a different site.

Be cautious of attachments and downloads

Be cautious about opening any attachment or downloading any files from emails you receive, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other software that can compromise information on your computer.

Use your anti-virus and anti-spyware software packages and keep them up-to-date

NJIT has licensed McAfee VirusScan Enterprise, SiteAdvisor and Antispyware to help protect against phishing websites, viruses, and spyware threats. For more information, please visit the McAfee VirusScan Enterprise page and the Virus & Malware Protection Center.

Area codes can mislead

Phishers use advanced VoIP technology that can forward such phone calls to locations outside of the area code dialed. If you need to reach an organization you do business with, call the number on your financial statements or on the back of your credit card.

Protect your identity!

"Identity theft is the fraudulent use of your name and identifying data and occurs when your personal information is stolen and used for someone else’s financial gain. Thieves will use your identity to open bank accounts and to obtain credit, merchandise or services. Victims often are left with ruined credit." (more info)

Review financial statements for unauthorized charges

Don't just ignore your monthly statements. Review them for unauthorized charges and contact your financial institution immediately if you find any. If your statement is late by a few days, contact your financial institution to verify they have the correct contact information for you on file.

Be aware of the information in your credit report

You are allowed to request a credit report free once every 12 months via AnnualCreditReport.com.

Be mindful of what you share on social media

Always ensure your privacy settings are set properly and not sharing potentially private information. The information you share on social media might seem innocent enough but with the right information, hackers can build a profile of you and have the answers to your challenge questions and leave you open to identity theft. It's tempting to share your upcoming travel plans with family and friends but consider how this might make you an easy target for local and online thieves.

Last Updated: August 24, 2017