Alex Austin is a Graduate Administrative Associate with Engineering Career Services.
Chances are you have received a phishing email before. These emails are typically trying to get your private information through the internet. Oftentimes students are targets for theses scams and they might come in the form of a false internship or job opportunity. Here are some ways to recognize a Phishing Scam.
1. Generic sender.
Many times, phishing scams will say they are a real company to get our attention. For students common examples are emails saying they are from a company about a job, problems with student loans, or new/free services. By having companies attached with the email, more people are likely to click on the links. Before you click any link, check the sender! If the person says they are from a company, then they should not be sending from a generic email account.
2. Requests for private information.
A company should never ask for sensitive information over an email. This should always be a sign that something is going on. If you do have any questions about if the email is from a legitimate source, reach out to a company’s customer service line and ask if they sent out an email recently.
3. Poor grammar and spelling.
An email from a corporation should have gone through several rounds of edits before being sent. Read over the email carefully looking for mistakes. Have a friend look over the email to make sure you haven’t missed anything.
4. Threatening or time sensitive announcements.
Many phishing scams will try to urge you to take immediate action. Phrases such as “Urgent Action Required!”, “Account compromised”, or “If you don’t take action soon” can often indicate a phishing scam. By making you feel that you have to act immediately, you may be less inclined to look for mistakes or to spot inconsistencies in the email.
5. Vague information.
Does the email open with your name, or with a vague greeting like “valued customer” or “client”? Do they use a name to close the email, or is it an ambiguous closing from the company? Few specifics included in an email can be an indicator that it may not be valid. If the email mentions an action that you could have made, double check to see if you really did perform that action. Common items will be cancelling or confirming an account.
6. Illegitimate links.
Often time links in an email will appear to get you to go to a specific website. The easiest way to determine if the links are safe is to hover over them with your mouse and see where they are going to take you. The links should take you to an official page of the company sending the email. Anything else should raise a warning flag. Do NOT click on a link before you have verified it is safe.
Student Legal Services (SLS) with Ohio State also provides tips for deciding whether a job or internship is a scam. SLS is available for attorney consultations if you have questions about an offer. If you have concerns about a company or job’s legitimacy you can also contact Engineering Career Services for guidance.
For additional information, see our blog on Detecting Fraudulent Job Opportunities.
“Safety is something that happens between your ears, not something you hold in your hands.” – Jeff Cooper