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Friday, August 29, 2014

Advisory: Beware of Impersonation Fraud

Don't be afraid to question communications that claim to come from "official" sources. A common tactic in phishing and other scams is a claim to be or represent some important official.


  • Email from the "help desk" claiming you need to re-authenticate your account. This is a common tactic used to trick people into giving up their Internet ID and password.
  • Phone messages from "Microsoft support" telling you that your computer is infected. This trick usually involves telling the victim that they need to let the caller examine their computer remotely - usually aimed at installing malicious software.
  • Email or text messages telling you that you need to install "special software" to chat with your help desk. Again, the aim of such tactics is to trick you into installing malicious software.

If you receive messages like these, don't be afraid to challenge them. You should be able to confirm official communications through other channels. For technical issues, visit http://it.umn.edu and use the search function to confirm that a caller or email is official. Likewise the search function on  UMN home page at http://www.umn.edu will help you. (Don't forget about http://search.umn.edu!)

For examples of other common fraud methods, see the FBI's page on Common Fraud Schemes at http://www.fbi.gov/scams-safety/fraud.

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