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Identify Email Scams (and steps to take if you receive one) 


Phishing is a fraudulent attempt to acquire personal information such as usernames, passwords, account numbers, etc. Phishing emails often "appear" to come from well-known organizations who ask you to click a link in the email that takes you to a site requesting personal information. Phishing is often carried out by email spoofing (see Spoofed Emails below).

Spoofed Emails

Email spoofing is used to make you believe the emails you receive are from a reliable source when in fact they are not. Once you click on a link in the email or respond to the email, viruses and spyware may attempt to steal your private information.

What you should do if you receive a questionable email:

  • Do not click on the link(s) in the email.
  • Do not respond to the email.
  • Do not open any attachments.
  • Forward the email to, or you may contact the TAC if you suspect you received a fraudulent email.
  • Delete the email.

What you should do if you accidentally click on links in a fraudulent email:

Signs of a fraudulent email:

  • Misspelled words / typos (In example below: Wellcome has two "L's" in it)
  • A generic greeting instead of the email being addressed specifically to you
  • Unknown or unfamiliar email addresses
  • Requests for confidential information
  • Receiving "system undeliverable" messages from an unknown email address

Real Examples:

Example 1 - Actual fraudulent email that was received at UNCW:

From: []
Sent: Thursday, May 15, 2008 3:08 PM
To: undisclosed-recipients

Dear E-mail Users,

The new Uncw Webmail is a fast and light-weight appliction to quickly and easily access your e-mail. We are currently upgrading our data base and e-mail center. We are deleting Uncw Webmail to create more space for new email.

To prevent your email from closing you will have to update it below so that we will know that it's a present used email.

User ID: ......... .....
E-mail Password : ...............
Choose a Secret Question : ...............
Choose a Secret Answer : ...............

Warning!!! Account owner that refuses to update his or her account within Seven days of receiving this warning will lose his or her account permanently.Thank you for using Uncw Webmail! Access Number: 859480KBM

Uncw Webmail Center

Example 2 - From website:

phishing email example