August 17, 2018

Protect Yourself from Electronic Scams

The following message is from the University Police & Public Safety.

Electronic scams abound these days. In order to offer you protection, our department offers the following safety tips:

  • If it sounds too good to be true (something for nothing or very little work), it probably is fraud.
  • Never provide personal identifying information to sources or individuals with whom you have no established relationship.
  • Never provide or share bank account, credit card, or other financial information.
  • Beware of phishing attempts that involve the use of official or authentic-looking company or bank logos.
  • Protect your PINs and passwords; NEVER disclose to third parties. Legitimate service providers will not ask.
  • If you are ever contacted about a problem with your account (credit card, checking etc.), do NOT discuss information with the caller. Instead, hang up and use the Customer Service number that you have received on previous bank statements or credit card billings.
  •  During this season of tax deadlines, many scams will surface claiming to be IRS collection efforts. Ignore. It would be extremely rare for government agencies like the IRS to make direct collection phone calls regarding outstanding fines, taxes due, or fees.
  • Be acutely aware of this common ploy:

You receive an email advising that you have been selected to work as a “secret shopper” or a payroll or payment processor. Often the email will have an “employee information form” that you need to complete with your personal information – including your bank account or credit card info. Once you have returned the form to the sender, you receive your first task, which usually involves evaluating Western Union’s quality of customer service or making a payment from your personal account. In the secret shopper scam, you may be instructed to complete an evaluation form on the quality of customer service and send it back to the secret shopper company.

In all these transfer payment scams (i.e., a third-party check is deposited in your account), the con artist goes to the location where you wired the money and retrieves it. You later receive notification that your check did not clear your bank, because it was fraudulent. You have just been swindled; plus, the con artist now has your personal identity information from form you completed.

For more information or assistance, contact Lt. Brad Sullivan in our department. If you receive unsolicited e-mail offers or spam, you should report them to it-abuse@umw.edu and/or forward the messages to the Federal Trade commission at spam@uce.gov.

As a reminder to the University community, the University Public Safety Communications Center at Brent House is staffed around the clock. Anyone observing suspicious activity or unsafe conditions should call Campus Police immediately at 540-654-1025; alternately, dial 4444 from any University phone or go to any exterior blue light station and press the call button.  Additionally, anonymous tips or information may be reported to Campus Police via the Silent Witness web link. Also, for the safety of students, the Police Communications Center provides after-hour safety escorts.

Most important, if you haven’t done so already, Download the RAVE Guardian safety application: Download Rave Guardian for iPhone or Download Rave Guardian for ANDROID