Phishers use a variety of means to steal your data. Learn how to recognize a phishing attempt.

Common Methods for Phishing Attempts

  • Email attachments and links
  • Pop-up windows or messages
  • Phone calls
  • Instant messages (IMs)
  • Text messages
  • Fake system notifications (impersonating Dropbox, etc.)

How You Can Tell It’s a Phishing Attempt

You can tell it’s a phishing attempt if:

Has a deceptive email header. Check message headers carefully to see who the sender really is. Phishers use colors, logos and phrasing from companies and universities to make their communication seem genuine and mimic a legitimate email address.

Directs you to a website that looks legitimate, but is not. Sometimes the phisher uses a URL that appears similar to a genuine source’s URL in order to trick you. To avoid being fooled:

  • Make sure the URL for any form matches the trusted place you intend to go.
  • Hover your mouse over a link without clicking it to see the link’s destination.
  • Do an Internet search for the actual company URL.

Asks you to give, update, validate or confirm your account information.

Requires an immediate response such as, “You must respond within 24 hours”.

Threatens dire consequences if you do not respond.

Contains forms or dialogue boxes that prompt you to enter your Personally Identifiable Information (PII).

Contains spelling and grammatical errors.

Fails to address you by your name and instead addresses you as “Client,” “User” or “Customer”.

Appears to be from a reliable source. Phishers disguise themselves as reliable, familiar sources like a bank, telephone or computer companies, or even as a Washburn service/department like HR. A good indicator for fraudulent Washburn emails may have a warning like this at the top of the body of the email you would normally expect to be sent internally:

This email originated from outside of the Washburn email domain. Do not click links or open attachments unless you recognize the sender and know the content is safe.

Promises services or rewards that are too good to be true like offers on coupons or promises to remove computer viruses. This is often a way of gaining access to your email address or computer itself.

Tries to entice you by offering you the latest technology. Phishers will often use products like iPads, phones, laptops, and flat screen televisions to get your email address or phone number.

Looks like a suspicious update by a friend on a social media network. Scammers target popular social media sites and use messages or updates from friends as a way to lure you to sites requesting your Personally Identifiable Information (PII).


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