Scheduled scamming

Posted on: 22 August 2017
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This month, Graeme Wolfe, Information and IT Security Officer, takes a further look at the cycle of scams and what all the scheduled topics have in common.

Each year, around this time, I return to the subject of regular scams. If you check my blogs from previous summers, see links attached here and here. You will see there are cycles in scammer’s schedules, for example summer and the new academic year will see appealing wording in subject lines, that will appeal to people at this time of year, such as flights, clearing, loans, car hire, password reset and grants. They have all been used as ‘hooks’ in the past by scammers, to try and get your information.

With this being the holiday season, scammers try to use words like flights, car hire and holidays in their messages, to fool people into either handing over their personal information or even scamming them out of their money.

Also with many students sorting their details out for the forthcoming year, messages with things relating to loans, grants and clearing applications can be used to try and get log in and banking details from both existing and prospective students.

Additionally, as many students receive their access details to University systems around this time of year and often these expire after one year, there are scam messages about renewing your password that do the rounds and they can get mixed up with a genuine message about changing your password. This is the genuine site for Westminster password self service any other links are likely to be a scam or phishing attempt.

Some of these scams are too obvious to be genuine. Titles such as ‘log in and apply for your £3k grant’ or ‘log in to find out about your 13% pay rise’ should automatically raise an alarm to everyone. But some of them are very clever and the details / sites look like they could be genuine. So please be cautious and if you are in any doubt, then check with the Service Desk to see if it is a known scam, or speak with the Security and Compliance Team, who are always happy to help and advise you in such matters.

Working on the following two principles should help to keep you ahead of the fraudsters.

  1. If it looks too good to be true, then it probably is.
  2. Mistaking a genuine message for a scam is nowhere near as bad as mistaking a scam for a genuine message.

Graeme Wolfe

Information and IT Security Officer


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