Don't buy gift cards!

August 30, 2019

HSU is continuing to see a high volume of "imposter" emails that claim to be from the University President, a VP, or a Department Chair. These emails NEVER come from the email address of the person they claim to be from - they are usually from throwaway addresses.

It can be hard to see the sender's actual email address, as opposed to the display name, particularly on mobile devices; unfortunately, it's all too easy for hackers to spoof display addresses.

Additionally, these imposter emails are designed to make you believe that the purported trusted sender is stuck in a meeting where cell phone calls are not allowed. The subject line of these emails always implies a degree of urgency, like "Are you on campus?", "Available?" or "Urgent!"

To avoid being blocked by email security filters, these latest variants want you to respond with your mobile number using text messaging. Once they have opened up this side channel, scammers will start asking you to purchase iTunes, Amazon or other gift cards, because these can easily be turned into untraceable cash.

Take these simple steps to avoid getting scammed:

  •     Double-check the "real" email address before responding to any email you're not sure about.
  •     Don't send your cellphone number to anyone requesting it urgently via email
  •     Don't buy and share gift card information with anyone via text message, even if the person claims to know you.

When it comes to information security, it's always better to err on the side of caution. Feel free to contact the HSU information security team at x3815 with any questions.

Announcement Approvals: