A wave of nationwide phishing scams is targeting college students, according to reports from Louisiana State University, University of Wisconsin-Platteville, Amherst College, Wellesley College, Dartmouth College and more.
Students have reported several different types of online scams. One involves emails that contain phony job opportunities and request one’s personal data, advised the Department of Homeland Security last month. The email pretends that it’s interested in hiring a person, then asks for sensitive information like one’s social security number or home address.
At Dartmouth College, several thousand students received emails that appeared to be from President Phil Hanlon. The messages included links to websites with malware. Recipients were advised not to click on the links.
On Thursday, Louisiana State University reported a spike in on-campus phishing scams. LSU IT Services Communications Officer Sheri Thompson said spam bots were sending out emails impersonating the university’s help desk.
“Be skeptical, be skeptical about any links that you get, any request for information that you get,” she advised. “Even if it says it’s coming from an LSU person, skeptical.”
California-based Claremont Colleges reported a recent influx of phishing emails on Friday. Claremont McKenna College Assistant Director of Information Bruce Frost said scammers were targeting the school’s five undergraduate facilities. The phishing emails were delivered to students, professors and staff members.
Massachusetts-based Wellesley College alerted students of fraudulent versions of its student login page. The private women’s school posted screenshots of the authentic and forged sites next to one another as a precaution.
“This scam copied our login page, even using our Wellesley College images! What set the scam website apart was that it was not located at wellesley.edu and wasn’t a secure website,” the school’s IT department explained in January. “Always look for those things when viewing website, both on computers and mobile phones.”
Phishing scams are easy to fall for. They can impersonate banks, legitimate sites like Paypal or a student’s college administration.
If you receive a suspicious email, always verify the domain name of the sender. A random combination of letters and numbers instead of your school’s URL is a dead giveaway that something’s not right.
Most importantly, don’t click on any links. If an email says you need to update personal information, open a new browser window login from there.
More tips to avoid phishing scams can be found here.