We often see an uptick in computer crime at the end of the year, correlated with holiday shopping and tax filing season. This year is no different. Most computer crime is inexpensive or free to commit, meaning that even a very small chance of payoff can still reward a criminal’s effort. At the same time, this fraud is incredibly annoying for computer users in terms of lost productivity and occasionally financial harm.
We want you to be safe, so are providing these reminders to help out.
- Under no circumstances will WSE leadership ask you for your cell phone number, gift cards, or other cash. Email asking for those will often appear to come from faculty or administration, but will actually be from a free Gmail address with a fake return name. These are a scam and do not mean that the sender’s email has been compromised. The scam usually works by having the victim purchase gift cards and text images of the cards’ codes to the scammer.
- The IRS will never call you demanding immediate payment or a specific payment method, ask for credit cards over the phone, or threaten immediate arrest. In past years we have seen waves of emails, text messages, and phone calls impersonating the IRS.
- Your defense is to file your taxes early, to prevent fraudulent filings in your name, and to use the secure online delivery of your W2 documents.
- All legitimate federal tax payments are made to the US Treasury, not to any third party.
If you’re at all unsure about the authenticity of some communication, the best answer is to send an email to email@example.com, or for payroll-related issues to contact WSE’s HR department.
If you’d like some training on IT security, Hopkins has created a good, short training of some important principles. Go to MyLearning and search on “Information Security and Data Management.”
Here are some previous University communications on these issues: