Be alert for cybersecurity scams as the school year begins
As the new academic year begins this month, UC locations hum with renewed energy. It’s also an exciting time for hackers, identity thieves and other unscrupulous types who take advantage of people during this busy time of year.
Here are some tips to help you protect yourself and the university from cyber scams.
Watch out for typical beginning-of-the-year scams
- Emails supposedly containing “important information about your UC account,” or a “problem with your account.”
- If you have children attending college, be aware of scams specifically designed to cheat students out of money, such as scholarship scams, fake “tuition payment processors”, textbook rental or book-buying scams, housing scams, tutoring scams and work-from-home scams.
- “Tech support” scams where you get a call supposedly from “ResNet” or “the Service Desk” or even “Microsoft” or “Apple” telling you there’s a problem with your computer.
- IRS impersonators demanding that students or their parents wire money immediately to pay a fake “federal student tax.”
- Messages asking for your login information, no matter how legitimate they may look. No one other than you needs to know your passwords.
- Fake friend requests on social media.
- Fake Box or Google Doc notices.
How to stay safe
The best way to avoid scams is to approach all unexpected messages, offers, and phone calls with a healthy skepticism. Helpful habits include:
- Always think twice before clicking on links or opening attachments, even if they look like they’re from someone you know. If you’re not sure, contact the sender by a method you know is legitimate to confirm they sent it.
- Verify requests for private information. Remember, con artists know how to fake their identity.
- Protect your passwords. Make them long and strong, never reveal them to anyone and use different passwords for different accounts. Also use multi-factor authentication (MFA) when possible.
For more about these and other effective cybersecurity habits, check out UC’s “Make It a Habit” webpage at https://security.ucop.edu/resources/security-awareness/habits.html.
Additional information about specific scams
- More on tech support scams: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0346-tech-support-scams
- Scholarship scams: http://www.fraud.org/back_to_school_scams (end of the article)
- “Tuition payment processor” scams (also from 2016 but still current): https://www.forbes.com/sites/johnwasik/2016/09/11/scam-alert-avoid-college-payment-processors/