UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State University Police and Public Safety cautions the Penn State community to beware of scammers, particularly those who try to reach their victims via phone calls, text messages and emails.
Criminals frequently use phone calls, texts and emails to victimize the unsuspecting with theft scams, using elaborate plots to lure victims into revealing details about his or her identity or agreeing to send cash, cryptocurrency or gift cards to the criminals. University Police and Public Safety wants to make Penn State’s more than 100,000 students and employees aware of such scams to help them avoid becoming victims.
“Penn State University Police and Public Safety is charged with protecting the Penn State community, and that includes protecting them from criminals who prey on the unsuspecting through phony requests for cash or personal details. That’s why we encourage all members of the Penn State community, including students, to take steps to avoid falling victim to these elaborate schemes,” said Charlie Noffsinger, assistant vice president for University Police and Public Safety.
Beware of phishing scams via email, text or website
Phishing is an attempt to steal your personal information, usually through a fraudulent email message or phone call. The criminals who do this often pose as representatives of trusted, well-known organizations and ask for information that will allow them to steal money or the victim’s identity, or hack into the person’s computer.
To protect yourself against phishing scams, Penn State’s Office of Information Security recommends these tips:
- Suspect the unexpected. Most phishing attempts come from what appear to be legitimate sources. If you’re not expecting an attachment (for an example, a package invoice) from someone, even if you know them, don’t open it.
- Call to confirm. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of an attachment or email, call that person to confirm. For example, if you receive a notification from “UPS” about a missed package, call them directly to make sure it’s real.
- Never surrender. Don’t ever give up your personal information. Scammers will often try to get you to “reset your password” by clicking on a link. Penn State will NEVER ask you for your social security number, WebAccess account password, or other sensitive information via email.
- More is more. Use two-factor authentication (2FA) to add an extra layer of protection to your email, social media and other online accounts. Penn State faculty and staff are required to use 2FA for their WebAccess account. Students, while not required to enroll, are encouraged to do so at 2FA.psu.edu.
Report phishing emails and texts
Penn State has a dedicated email address for reporting phishing attempts: firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also visit phishing.psu.edu, Penn State’s dedicated phishing website, to view the latest phishing alerts and to learn more about phishing.
Identity theft may sometimes result from a phishing scam. Visit identitytheft.gov to take steps to minimize your risk of identity theft.