Guide to Not Getting Scammed Online
By Eric McCloy, Eastern University CIO
At Eastern, we take security and email scam protection seriously. But it is impossible for us to stop every possible scam email from getting through. Everyone needs to take responsibility to learn how to spot scams and protect themselves, their identity, and their finances.
6 Tips to Avoid Getting Scammed Online
- Be suspicious: This is an important life skill.
- Check if the email address comes from @eastern.edu: Anyone can make a free email online and give it whatever name they want. For example, creating the email address EasternUniversityPresident4Realz@gmail.com and typing in our President’s name in the field can be done in 5 minutes. Eastern Faculty and Staff will have an email address that ends in “@eastern.edu”.
- The Name and the Email address should match: Sometimes, an @eastern.edu email account gets hacked. As soon as we learn about this, we shut it down, but you should be suspicious. So, if you get an email from Joe.Smith@eastern.edu and it says “Hello, this is Professor Huddell …” you should be suspicious. Professor Huddell’s email address will have her name, not Joe Smith’s.
- Ask yourself, “Is this too good to be true?”
Here are some common examples of scams that are indeed “too good to be true”:
- Teaching or Research Assistant Jobs: Some scams offer Research Assistant jobs that pay $300-$400 a week for remote work with almost no responsibility. No real person is offering high-paying jobs that require no work.
- Emailed Checks: Some emails include an attachment with an actual check with your name on it.
- No one at Eastern is randomly emailing you $2,000. (Or any other amount) The scammer even goes so far as to put Eastern's Logo on the check AND use the name of a legitimate online payment provider, so they are spoofing two companies at once.
- If someone asks you to deposit a fake check, the goal is to steal your personal and financial information.
- Gift Card Emergency: The scammer pretends to be someone important (often the University President) and says they are stuck in a meeting but really wants to give someone a gift card. The ask is that you buy them a gift card and send them the picture and the PIN. They promise to reimburse you – but it’s a lie. How can you tell this is a scam? Simply say it out loud but try not to giggle: “Gift Card Emergency”. It sounds ridiculous because it is.
5. Never Give Away your SSN or other Personal Information by Email, Text, or Phone:
- Don’t give away your Password, SSN, Birthday, or Mom’s maiden name via email, text, or phone! Emails that are asking you to “Confirm” personal information are just cheap, lazy scams to try to steal your identity.
- If you are unsure, check the email address - Is it @eastern.edu? Does the name match the address? Still not sure? Look up the department’s phone number on our website and ask them if the email is legit. (Don’t use any number on the email - that’s probably fake too!)
- The only place to change your password is at password.eastern.edu
- If someone sends you a link saying "your account is going to be disabled if you don’t confirm your password... Blah Blah Blah” ... It's a lie.
- IT will never ask you for your password over email, phone, or text.