Is this Phishing? Is this Spam?

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James Josleyn
  • Updated

It's an unfortunate fact that scammers sometimes send messages trying to trick you into giving them information or money. They may pretend to be an organization or a person you trust, or they may present you with an opportunity that seems too good to pass up. Here are several kinds of phishing messages and how you can recognize them:

An offer that's too good to be true

Several times scammers have offered jobs that pay hundreds of dollars per week for watching a few pets, or other such things that are more than would typically be expected. Those individuals would then try to collect information or money from students who responded.

A document or invoice you weren't expecting

Employees will sometimes get invoices, PDF documents or recently DocuSign documents that they weren't expecting. A good rule of thumb is that if you don't know the person or weren't expecting them to send you this document, don't open it. If you know the person in aren't sure it really came from them, start a new email to them (don't reply to the one they sent you) and ask them if they sent you the document.

A request that doesn't sound the way the person usually speaks

A common pattern is to get a message that pretends to be from a college leader saying something like, “I need a quick favor from you.” That will then turn into a request to buy something in a hurry. Here again the best bet is to open a separate message to the person asking if they really sent such a thing.

A message that claims to be from “The IT Department”

Often scammers will send a message that claims that you are nearly out of mail space, or need to verify your identity. The technology department for Shoreline Community College is called Technology Support Services. We won't send you messages as “The IT Department” or other variations on that. It can be hard to tell these messages from legitimate ones, so if you are not sure, email and we can help you determine if the request is legitimate.

A message that claims to be from someone on campus that has the warning banner

We now include a yellow banner at the top of email messages if they come from outside campus. If you get a message claiming to be from a college employee that has that banner on it, it's probably not legitimate.

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