July 10, 2020

Scams target UW students

(Updated July 15, 2020)

Currently there’s a surge in email scams aimed at UW students. Deceptive offers may arrive in the following forms:

  • Offers for internships, work-from-home, and “secret shopper” jobs
  • Help with financial aid, tuition payments, and government assistance
  • Voicemails and robocalls that try to entice you call back with personal information
  • Hoaxes that attempt to leverage news about COVID-19 and/or the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

Scammers may try to convince you to purchase gift cards or to send or receive money advances with the promise of easy jobs, tuition discounts or other rewards.

One current fraudulent campaign targeting students begins with a voicemail warning of an “incomplete application for student loan forgiveness,” and requests a call back by the end of the day (whether or not the recipient wishes to continue with the supposed application). The call is prerecorded, but uses details like the current date to sound more convincing. Many reports of calls with nearly identical transcripts can be found in online complaints.

Scams sent via email can appear to be from UW employees, but are often sent from phony or spoofed email accounts. The scammer may also ask you to provide a cell phone number or non-UW email address in order to contact you via alternative methods.

Such hoaxes are not new, but they are continuously adapted to take advantage of current news stories.

Things to do

Please review the following tips and resources to help keep your personal information and UW NetID login credentials secure throughout the year:

  • Beware of requests for transfers of money or gift cards.
  • Messages that solicit money, ask for your financial or bank account information, or offer to send you money should be regarded as highly suspicious. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Be cautious about clicking links or downloading attachments in email, even from someone you know.
  • Use strong passwords and protect your UW NetID credentials.
  • Report suspected email scams targeting the UW community to security@uw.edu.
  • If you’ve been a victim of a scam, contact your local law enforcement, such as UW Police.
  • Check the Phishing Examples page to view current phishing schemes (but be aware that new scams are always being developed).


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