Avoid Phishing and Other Scams

Phishing and spam emails are nothing new, but scammers are using some new lures to trick people into giving up their passwords, especially with cloud resources becoming more prevalent.

Here are some tips to keep your password, identity, and computer safe…

Who sent the message?  Who’s the message addressed to?

Consider whether you know the person who sent the message, and whether that person would be sharing a document with you or asking you to take action – even if the sender has an @northwestu.edu address.  Official requests won’t come from an external address.  Also look at who the message is addressed to – be suspicious if you’re not a direct recipient or if the other recipients don’t seem to be related.

What’s the message context?

An unexpected or unsolicited message with an opportunity or shared document (link or file attachment) is often an indicator that it’s spam or a phishing attempt.  Requests to purchase gift cards for a supervisor and offers that seem too good to be true (e.g. jobs, grants) are common scams.

How is the message’s formatting and grammar?

Scam, spam, and phishing emails will often use wording and formatting that are unprofessional.  Official message templates are reviewed by teams of people to ensure both proper grammar and consistent formatting/branding.  If the message you receive doesn’t quite look right or uses awkward phrasing, it should likely be deleted.

Where will the link take you?

If the message seems to pass the previous checks, the last thing to check is where a link is taking you.  Hover your mouse over (or tap-and-hold) the link to see the link’s address.  If the link doesn’t match the sender, or goes to an unfamiliar web address, don’t open the link.

If it’s clearly a scam, please simply delete the message.  If you’re not sure whether an email is valid, feel free to forward it to the IT Help Desk (help@northwestu.edu).  Also let us know if you believe that someone’s – or your own – NU account has been compromised so we can take immediate action.