Mason Community Warning of Increase in Phishing

Following a resurgence in attempts by criminals to defraud people at the university, Information Technology Services (ITS) warns the Mason community not to respond to unsolicited emails or phone calls.

Phishing emails use social engineering to attempt to steal money, get usernames and passwords and find ways to compromise accounts. Cybercriminals often target university community members at the beginning of semesters because it is a busy time of year, and they hope to catch people off-guard.

Here are some ways to protect yourself:

  • Don’t click on links in unsolicited emails. Some links may lead to compromised accounts or may download malware or Ransomware to your computer. Malware can affect your computer’s operation or jeopardize other systems connected to your computer. Ransomware is used to lock you out of your computer and seeks money to release files.
  • Don’t reply to emails that ask if you are available and for your cell phone number. Such false requests often claim to come from your supervisor, but this is a scam to get you to buy gift cards as a means to steal money from you.
  • Don’t apply for jobs that require you to deposit money into an account. Phony job opportunity phishes, which overpromise high wages for little work, circulate regularly and often leave recipients scammed out of money.
  • Look out for student loan scams. Mason community members have reported receiving phone calls claiming to offer help with debt relief or repayment. Neither Mason nor the U.S. Department of Education is calling or texting about loan forgiveness or repayment options. Be aware of the tactics commonly used to get students to sign up for fake student loan forgiveness, such as requesting an up-front or monthly fee with a promise of total cancellation or a lower payment for a fee.

Remember: If you receive an offer that seems too good to be true, it usually is. No reputable organization will ever ask for your username and password, nor will it ask you for a Duo Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) push to access your account.

Report unsolicited or suspicious emails to the ITS Support Center at 703-993-8870 or Report questionable phone calls to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at and George Mason University Campus Police.