Be Aware of Scammers

by Brian Cadwell, Director and Chief, Department of Public Safety and Police Services

The Department of Public Safety and Police Services (DPSPS) reminds the campus community that scammers are very much active in leveraging the current crisis to steal your personal information, your money or both.

While most of the scams that were present before the pandemic have merely been updated to use words/themes associated with the crisis, there have been reports of some unique techniques that criminals are using to take advantage of the uncertainty that we currently face. Some of these techniques are:

  • Having persons download apps or software that track the status of the outbreak. These programs may seem legitimate, but they are in fact malware or ransomware.
  • Emails or text messages that redirect people to websites that appear to be from government organizations, but are actually skimming sites used to obtain personal information. These websites usually appear to be from the IRS, CDC or FEMA. 
  • Persons going door to door, claiming to be from the CDC or similar agency, to do “safety” checks. The impersonators then ask for personal information for their “database” so they can better track the outbreak.
  • Using online fundraising sites, such as GoFundMe, to claim they are a COVID-19 charity. They may even have official sounding names and narratives, but are not actually associated with any recognized organization.
  • Persons may claim to have safety products for sale (i.e. gloves, masks, sanitizer, etc.), but do not actually deliver anything once money is received or are found to be counterfeit. 

Following the recommendations of the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center, DPSPS reminds the community to always use good cyber hygiene and security measures. By remembering the following tips, you can protect yourself and help stop the scammers:

  • Do not open attachments or click links within emails from senders you don’t recognize.
  • Do not provide your username, password, date of birth, social security number, financial data, or other personal information in response to an email, robocall or an in person visit to your home.
  • Always verify the web address of legitimate websites and manually type them into your browser.
  • Check for misspellings or wrong domains within a link (for example, an address that should end in a “.gov” ends in .com” instead).

 If you have any questions about other scams, or would like to report a scam, DPSPS can be reached at 7-2216 or online.