Is This A Scam?
How can you really know what to trust and what not to trust? Some phishing email includes university branding that makes it look legitimate. Here are some tips for evaluating whether an email is legitimate and requires your attention, or if it is a potential scam that should be reported.
Verify Contact Information
- Legitimate email should offer an alternative contact method, such as a phone number or campus address.
- When in doubt, contact the department or person from which the email supposedly originates to ensure it is legitimate.
Beware Embedded Links
Malicious email will often include a link hidden within a legitimate-looking link. IT Services uses multiple spam and phishing filters, including SafeLink and ProofPoint, to prevent most fraudulent email from arriving at your Inbox.
To prevent you from accidentally clicking on malicious links, the ProofPoint system finds potentially suspicious emails and rewrites the links in the messages to look something like "https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v1/url?u-http://website.com?s=long." These modified URLs allow the system to check the link when you click on it. If the link is malicious, you will be prevented from visiting the page. If the link is valid, you will be forwarded to the page.
If a link in an email is not modified by ProofPoint, you can play it safe by copying and pasting the URL directly into your web browser.
To guard against phishing scams, consider the following:
- Reputable organizations should never use email to request that you reply with your password, full Social Security number, or confidential personal information.
- Be suspicious of any email message that asks you to enter or verify personal information through a website or by replying to the message itself. Never reply to or click the links in such a message.
- If you think the message may be legitimate, go directly to the company's website (i.e., type the real URL into your browser) or contact the company to see if you really do need to take the action described in the email message.
- Read your email as plain text.
Phishing messages often contain clickable images that look legitimate; by reading messages in plain text, you can see the URLs that any images point to. Additionally, when you allow your mail client to read HTML or other non-text-only formatting, attackers can take advantage of your mail client's ability to execute code, which leaves your computer vulnerable to viruses, worms, and Trojans.
If you choose to read your email in HTML format:
- Hover your mouse over the links in each email message to display the actual URL. Check whether the hover-text link matches what's in the text, and whether the link looks like a site with which you would normally do business.
- On an iOS device, tap and hold your finger over a link to display the URL. Unfortunately, Android does not currently support this.
- Before you click a link, check to see if the message sender used a digital signature when sending the message. A digital signature helps ensure that the message actually came from the sender.
Protect Yourself and Others from Phishing
Phishing attacks try to threaten you into giving up your personal information, but there are ways to protect yourself.
- Be suspicious of any email asking you to enter or verify personal information through a website or by replying to the message itself. Never reply to or click the links in such a message.
- If you feel the message may be legitimate, go directly to the company's website by typing the URL in your browser, or contact the company to see if you really do need to take the action described in the message.
Remove Bad Email
When you recognize a phishing message, delete and then empty it from the deleted items folder to avoid accidentally accessing any links contained in the message.
Take Action and Report Phishing
If you think you have fallen for a phishing scam or provided your information to a malicious website:
- Change your password immediately at password.uark.edu.
- Forward the phishing email to email@example.com and then delete the message.
Some malicious email is so well disguised that it slips past security measures unless reported.
Prevent More Phishing
If you receive a phishing message, do not reply. If you personally know the sender, contact them to let them know that their email was compromised. They should go to password.uark.edu and change their password immediately.