What is phishing and how do you recognize a scam?

Phishing email messages, websites, and phone calls are designed to steal money or sensitive information. Cybercriminals can do this by installing malicious software on your computer, tricking you into giving them sensitive information, or outright stealing personal information off of your computer.


For more information and examples of real phishing attacks, view the Phishing Awareness Overview (.pdf). 

For a great interactive video, check out How Hackers "Fish" for Victims from InfoSec Institute.

What to do when you think you have received a phishing email at your valdosta.edu account:

  • First, do not click on any links within the email or download any attachment.
  • If there is an attachment in the email, and you recognize the sender but aren't expecting an attachment, please call the sender and ask if it is legitimate.

Tips to protect yourself from phishing emails:

  • VSU Information Technology (IT) will NEVER ask for your password over email. Be wary of any emails asking for passwords. Never send passwords, bank account numbers, or other private information in an email.
  • Be cautious about opening attachments and downloading files from emails, regardless of who sent them. These files can contain viruses or other malware that can weaken your computer's security. If you are not expecting an email with an attachment from someone, such as a fax or a PDF, call the sender and ask if he/she indeed sent the email. If not, the sender may have been a victim and should change his/her email password immediately.
  • Never enter private or personal information into a popup window.
  • If there is a link in an email, use your mouse to hover over that link to see if it is sending you to where it claims to be. This can thwart many phishing attempts.

  • Look for 'https://' and a lock icon in the address bar before entering any private information on a website.
  • Look for spelling and bad grammar. Cybercriminals are not known for their grammar and spelling. Professional companies or organizations usually have staff that will not allow a mass email like this to go out to its users. If you notice mistakes in an email, it might be a scam.

If you need additional assistance, contact VSU Solutions Center by calling 229-245-HELP (4357).

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