New semester, new scams

We’ve investigated of a couple of aggressive new scams already this spring, and given that we’re going into tax season – a favorite time of year for scammers – we’re bound to see many more.  I wanted to provide some information on what seems to be popular this year.

E-mails and calls where the person at the other end seems to already have a lot of personal information about you are increasingly common.  The Target breach in December was a particularly high profile event where personal information of some 70 million customers was compromised, though it’s consistent with malicious hackers increasingly targeting personal information more broadly.

Phone scams

A Washburn student has already reported a fake tech-support call where the caller knew her personal cell phone number and e-mail address and addressed her by name when she answered the phone.  The caller claimed to be from “Premier Technical Support” and repeatedly told her that her Washburn.edu e-mail was compromised (it wasn’t) and that she needed to get on her computer so they could remotely connect and fix it.  Fortunately she didn’t do so and instead did the right thing and called ITS User Services at 785.670.3000 to inquire about this.   The scammers called back repeatedly to try to get her to give them access to her computer.  That’s unusually aggressive for such scams and we are working with Washburn Police on that case.

In most cases, such scams block caller ID, however if you get one of these calls where the phone number is available the Washburn Police Department is interested in collecting that information.  You can contact WUPD at 785.670.1153.

Similar fake tech support calls are increasingly common and regularly feature callers claiming to be from Microsoft and other well-known companies.

http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9244207/Fake_Windows_tech_support_calls_continue_to_plague_consumers

http://www.thechipmerchant.com/it-blog/security-alerts/bogus-tech-support-phone-calls/

The IRS reports there are scam calls where the caller ID is forged appears and to be coming from the IRS.  Additionally the caller may have significant personal information, including the last 4 digits of your Social Security Number.

http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/IRS-Warns-of-Pervasive-Telephone-Scam

These sorts calls can be particularly disconcerting and/or convincing.  The FTC has advice and a means to report such scams if you’ve been taken advantage of  at the link below:

http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0346-tech-support-scams#If_You_Get_a_Call

 

E-mail Scams

We’ve also had a staff member report getting a suspicious e-mail from a company they had an existing working relationship with.  This company’s e-mail had been compromised and the hackers were sending realistic-looking e-mails to their customers with links purportedly to important files shared via Google Docs.  Instead the link was being used to harvest the user’s Gmail address and password as well as attempt to compromise their computer.

I’ve also previously posted about dangerous new malware delivered via e-mail called CryptoLocker.  This software encrypts your important data and holds it for ransom:

http://blog.washburn.edu/technology/2013/11/06/crytpolocker-trojan-warning/

If you have questions or concerns regarding suspicious e-mails or calls, feel free to contact ITS at 785.670.3000 or support@washburn.edu.  We’ll be happy to work with you.

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