Phishing, account compromise could get your semester off to the wrong start

It’s the season when promises of cool cash, easy personal assistant jobs and urgent notices of account cancellations often show up in your email inbox – all dubious, of course. Don’t let scammers make a mess of the beginning of your semester by putting your personal information at risk.

Regardless if you’re a new freshman or a senior faculty member, the beginning of the semester can be a hectic time, which makes it a prime target for scammers. They’re hoping you won’t look closely at what’s being asked and react without thinking.

A recent scam that has spread through Purdue inboxes is the promise of a job opportunity and an ask to deposit fraudulent checks, leading to monetary loss for those who follow the scammers’ instructions.

If you ever doubt an email’s legitimacy, forward it as an attachment to Sending questionable emails to Purdue System Security will help stop the spread of phishing emails and reduce the risk of others receiving similar emails.

Phishing scams often involve similar tactics and tricks, including:

  • Provoking fear or urgency. If the email asks that you act fast to avoid a serious consequence, be suspicious.
  • Asking you to click. If an email says to click on a link, move your mouse to hover over it to see where it actually leads. If you even think there’s a problem, don’t click.
  • Vague language. If the email is addressed to no one or a generic greeting such as “colleagues” and contains few details, it’s likely a scam. Look for spelling and grammatical errors as well.

Emails coming from email addresses may seem legitimate, but if the email is asking for personal information or access to data or accounts you oversee, double-check with the sender via another communication channel such as by calling them or messaging them on Skype or Teams.

Visit the Secure Purdue website,, for more information about staying safe online and keeping your personal data and Purdue's data secure.

Last updated: August 28, 2020