» By Chris Coppedge

Guest Writer

Universities across America have recently become targets for a variety of cyber crimes and related scams, particularly financial email related attempts to gain personal information through illicit means.

The types of scams currently being run include phishing, which Gevan Peacock of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg defines as “the attempt to gather personal or sensitive information using deception … Phishing scams rely heavily on social engineering to trick individuals into giving information directly or by installing a malicious program. These scams are perpetrated using a variety of technologies including, emails, websites, social networks, spyware, tweets, posts and even phone calls.”

Another type is an overpayment scam. In an article for Purdue University’s The Exponent, Purdue police lieutenant Fred Davis explained that in these scams “the scam artist will gain the trust of the victim by making the agreement seem legitimate and agreeing with the victim on a price for their services or items.” According to Davis, this can then lead to the delivery of a check, which is filed. Then it bounces, and the money is taken out of the victim’s account.

In a recent public service announcement by the Internet Crime Complaint Center, even more types of scams were exposed, such as people posing as university employers sending messages to employees, fake job postings promising administrative work-at-home opportunities for students, fraudulent income tax returns using professors’ private information and rerouting reimbursement money from student loans to other accounts.

Peacock said there are several ways to determine if an email is legitimate or not. These include checking to see if the sender and URL are legitimate, considering if the sender should really be sending people this information.

To ensure the security of a password-reset link, it is recommended to open a new browser window and type it in rather than clicking the link or copying and pasting.

Peacock also advises caution on social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter.

“Never provide usernames, passwords or other personal information on public blogs, walls, chat rooms and so on,” Peacock said.

Finally, one must be careful to never reveal this kind of personal information on the phone. TAS