Phishing

Learn to identify common scams and traps.

Can I report a phishing scam?

If you would like to report a phishing attempt related to a University unit or service, or you have questions about the validity of an email you have received, please contact security@uchicago.edu.

Please review our Identify Phishing Scams page for a more detailed discussion of how to identify phishing emails. You should also check out the latest phishing scams reported to Information Security.

You may report scams to the federal government at spam@uce.gov, which collects information to build cases against phishers. You may also contact the Anti-Phishing Working Group, a volunteer organization committed to wiping out phishing scams.

What Is a Phishing Scam?

A phishing scam is a legitimate-looking email that appears to come from a well-known and trustworthy organization or website but is really an attempt to gather personal and financial information from a recipient. Although this article focuses on email scams, remember that phishing scams can come in other forms too, such as via fax.

Two Common Types of Phishing Scams

The first type of scam asks you to respond to an email with your account password or Social Security number in order to prevent immediate closure of your bank account, email account, or some other service. No reputable organization will ever send an unsolicited message requesting this kind of information. If you ever receive a message that asks you to send in your CNet password, for example, it is a fraudulent email.

The second type of scam asks you to click a link to a fake site that might somewhat resemble a site or service you actually use, and log in with your password to verify your account. UChicago IT Services will never request your password, nor will we ask you to change or “validate” your password at a site URL other than http://cnet.uchicago.edu. You should never use your CNetID to log in at a domain other than myaccount.uchicago.edu.

If you’ve responded to either of these types of scams, you’ve placed your personal information in the hands of scammers, who can misuse it.

How do I know if a message I received is a phishing attempt?

Review the simple guidelines for identifying phishing emails included below.

Be suspicious of any email with urgent requests for personal information.

Phishers typically include upsetting or exciting (but false) statements in their emails to get people to react immediately. They typically ask for information such as your username, password, credit card numbers, social security number, or date of birth. Phishing emails will are usually worded generically, although occasionally phishers will go to the trouble to personalize them to make them seem more credible. If you receive an email requesting any kind of personal information, verify the source of the request by calling the person or organization in the From field before you respond or open any attachments.

Never share passwords, personal information, or financial information over email.

You should only provide private information such as credit card numbers or account information using a secure website or telephone. Email is not a secure way to send sensitive information.Never email your password, personal information, or financial information. Likewise, because there is no way to check the security certificate of pop-up windows, do not use them to provide sensitive information even though they may look official or claim to be secure. Close pop-up windows by clicking the X in the top right corner. Do not click a Cancel button on a pop-up; it may be a trap!

Do not click links in email messages if you suspect the message might not be authentic or if you don’t know the sender.

Always verify the real target address of a link by hovering the mouse over the link before clicking it, or type the link yourself in your browser window.

Don’t trust offers that seem too good to be true.

What’s too good to be true is probably too good to be true. If you don’t remember a relative, you probably don’t stand to inherit millions of dollars from him or her. If you don’t remember entering a lottery, you probably haven’t won anything. Exercise common sense before responding.

Recent Phishing Scams

Email Scam (Dec 13, 2017): “IT Service Desk”

From: Pannethier, Jacques [mailto:Jacques.Pannethier@crown.com] Sent: Wednesday, December 13, 2017 1:01 PM To: do-not-reply@itservice.com<mailto:do-not-reply@itservice.com> Subject: IT Service Desk Attention All, Due to routine maintenance and enhancements to...

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Email Scam (Dec 11, 2017): “Massage”

From: Walter L Day [mailto:wlday@pnw.edu] Sent: Monday, December 11, 2017 2:57 AM To: info@helpcenter.org Subject: Re: Massage This message is a reminder that the password for your account will be expiring on 12/13/2017 in 2 days. Please submit your email and password...

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