Phishing attempts are on the rise. Make sure you know what to look out for, and what to do if you receive a suspicious email.


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The beginning of the semester tends to come with an increase in phishing attempts targeting university students and employees. These emails attempt to get you to share personal information such as passwords, bank accounts, and information that can be used for nefarious purposes. 

Recent phishing attacks circulating at Virginia Tech

Account Termination Scam

Some users have received emails with the subject line “URGENT VT ALERT,” which appear to come from Virginia Tech accounts. This scam claims that your VT EDU account is on the verge of being terminated and urges you to click a link to halt this process. This is a phishing scam. Remember, Virginia Tech will not handle account issues through such emails.

Fraudulent Job Offers

Another scam involves emails, also from what appear to be Virginia Tech accounts, offering lucrative, work-from-home jobs requiring minimal hours. These emails may ask you to click a link to apply, or to respond with personal information. Various versions of this email scam have circulated over the past few years. 

The IT Security Office has determined that some of these phishing emails are coming from compromised Virginia Tech email accounts. Examples of these and other recent phishing scams can be viewed on the Division of IT’s recent Instagram post.

Know the telltale signs of phishing scams

The best way to avoid getting phished is to know what signs to look out for. These are some common traits of phishing attempts:

  • The sender does not match the source of the email (e.g., the email claims to be from Virginia Tech, but does not come from “@vt.edu”)
  • Links look suspicious and/or do not match the actual URL destination
  • It requests personal information such as usernames and passwords (Virginia Tech will never ask you to share your username or password via email.)
  • The message contains unprompted requests to change or update passwords
  • The message uses unusually formal language or odd grammar
  • The message uses scare tactics or creates a sense of urgency to provide information 
  • There are unexpected attachments
  • Something just seems off about the message (i.e., trust your gut)

What to do if you receive a suspicious email:

  • Do not reply.
  • Do not click any links or open attachments
  • Self-report the phish through your email client (i.e., Gmail or Outlook).

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