Personal Data Protection
Southern’s Office of Information Technology promotes cybersecurity awareness to help both students and employees stay safer online. Our goal is to protect both College data and your personal information from people who want to steal it. Check here for information about current scams, monitoring threats, blocking spam, and scanning Southern-owned devices to remove malware and improperly stored data.
Data Safety Tips
Use the helpful tips to stay safe both on and offline
- If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Beware of offers for free products, claims you won a contest you did not enter or get-rich-quick schemes.
- Take the time to investigate claims. If you think what a stranger is telling you might be true, investigate before giving them personal or financial information. Be sure to verify their phone number yourself through the phonebook or internet search. Don’t simply call the number the stranger gives you.
- Pay for expensive services, products, or vacation deals with a credit card so fraudulent charges can be disputed.
- Do not wire money to anyone unless you are absolutely sure it is someone you know and trust. Once wire funds are picked up, there is little law enforcement can do.
- When selling something, beware of anyone who wants to overpay and asks you to reimburse the difference. Even if a check has been cleared for your use, it may still be identified as counterfeit and you could lose funds you have spent from it.
- Don’t send a check, cash, or money order or give out your account information to anyone insisting on immediate payment.
- Guard credit card information, social security number, and checking account information as you do the keys to your house. They are the keys to your bank accounts and your identity. Don’t put this information on driver’s licenses, checks, or give it out to strangers who ask for it over the phone or at the door.
- Never place bank statements, credit card information, or any such sensitive financial or personal information in the trash without first shredding or otherwise defacing all account numbers. Do not leave mail in a mailbox overnight or on weekends.
- Avoid fake and forged check scams. Be suspicious of any check you receive from an unknown or unexpected source.
- Don’t let anyone rush you into making a decision. Take your time to ask questions and gather information about the product, contest, company, or charity and ask for written information to be sent to you. Scam artists typically will not take the time to provide this.
The following contains information from the FTC concerning data phishing schemes
Scammers use email or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. They may try to steal your passwords, account numbers, or Social Security numbers. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Scammers launch thousands of phishing attacks like these every day — and they’re often successful. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center reported that scammers often update their tactics, but there are some signs that will help you recognize a phishing email or text message.
Phishing emails and text messages may look like they’re from a company you know or trust. They may look like they’re from a bank, a credit card company, a social networking site, an online payment website or app, or an online store.
Phishing emails and text messages often tell a story to trick you into clicking on a link or opening an attachment. They may
- say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity or log-in attempts
- claim there’s a problem with your account or your payment information
- say you must confirm some personal information
- include a fake invoice
- want you to click on a link to make a payment
- say you’re eligible to register for a government refund
- offer a coupon for free stuff
What to Do If You Suspect a Phishing Attack
If you get an email or a text message that asks you to click on a link or open an attachment, answer this question: Do I have an account with the company or know the person that contacted me?
If the answer is “No,” it could be a phishing scam. Go back and review the tips in How to recognize phishing and look for signs of a phishing scam. If you see them, report the message and then delete it.
If the answer is “Yes,” contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the email. Attachments and links can install harmful malware.
What to Do If You Responded to a Phishing Email
If you think a scammer has your information, like your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number, go to IdentityTheft.gov. There you’ll see the specific steps to take based on the information that you lost.
If you think you clicked on a link or opened an attachment that downloaded harmful software, update your computer’s security software. Then run a scan.
How to Report Phishing
If you got a phishing email or text message, report it. The information you give can help fight the scammers.
Step 2. Report the phishing attack to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.
How to File a Complaint
Complaints help the FTC and other law enforcement agencies bring scam artists to justice and put an end to unfair and misleading business practices. If you have a complaint, file it online or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.
There are many other resources on the Federal Trade Commission’s site if you would like to learn more. You can review those at Consumer Information | Federal Trade Commission (ftc.gov).
As General Guidelines, if you suspect that an email or text message you received is a phishing attempt:
- Do not open it. In some cases, the act of opening the phishing email may cause you to compromise the security of your personally identifiable information (PII) (ex. Social Security Number, date of birth, name, account numbers, etc.)
- Delete it immediately to prevent yourself from accidentally opening the message in the future.
- Do not download any attachments accompanying the message. Attachments may contain malware such as viruses, worms, or spyware.
- Never click links that appear in the message. Links embedded within phishing messages direct you to fraudulent websites.
- Do not reply to the sender. Ignore any requests the sender may solicit and do not call phone numbers provided in the message.
- Report it. Help others avoid phishing attempts: Use the Federal Trade Commission’s online Complaint Assistant if you have been phished.
If you receive a phone call that seems to be a phishing attempt:
- Hang up or end the call. Be aware that area codes can be misleading. If your Caller ID displays a local area code, this does not guarantee that the caller is local.
- Do not respond to the caller’s requests. The college, financial institutions, and legitimate companies will never call you to request your personal information, so never give PII to the incoming caller.
Spam Text Messages and Phishing
Scammers send fake text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information – things like your password, account number, or Social Security number. If they get that information, they could gain access to your email, bank, or other accounts. Or they could sell your information to other scammers.
The scammers use a variety of ever-changing stories to try to rope you in. They may
- promise free prizes, gift cards, or coupons
- offer you a low or no interest credit card
- promise to help you pay off your student loans
Scammers also send fake messages that say they have some information about your account or a transaction. The scammers may
- say they’ve noticed some suspicious activity on your account
- claim there’s a problem with your payment information
- send you a fake invoice and tell you to contact them if you didn’t authorize the purchase
- send you a fake package delivery notification
The messages might ask you to give some personal information — like how much money you make, how much you owe, or your bank account, credit card, or Social Security number — to claim your gift or pursue the offer. Or they may tell you to click on a link to learn more about the issue. Some links may take you to a spoofed website that looks real but isn’t. If you log in, the scammers can then steal your user name and password.
Other messages may install harmful malware on your phone that steals your personal information without you realizing it.
What to Do About Spam Text Messages
If you get a text message that you weren’t expecting and it asks you to give some personal information, don’t click on any links. Legitimate companies won’t ask for information about your account by text.
If you think the message might be real, contact the company using a phone number or website you know is real. Not the information in the text message.
There are many ways you can filter unwanted text messages or stop them before they reach you.
|On your phone||Your phone may have an option to filter and block messages from unknown senders or spam. Here’s how to filter and block messages on an iPhone and how to block a phone number on an Android phone.|
|Through your wireless provider||Your wireless provider may have a tool or service that lets you block calls and text messages. Check ctia.org, a website for the wireless industry, to learn about the options from different providers.|
|With a call-blocking app||Some call-blocking apps also let you block unwanted text messages. Go to ctia.org for a list of call-blocking apps for Android, BlackBerry, Apple, and Windows phones.
You can also search for apps online. Check out the features, user ratings, and expert reviews.
How to Report Spam Text Messages
If you get an unwanted text message, there are three ways to report it: