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Protect yourself from email and other scams

A recent scam impacting the U begins by enticing students with a well-paying research position and ends with the loss of money. Learn what to watch out for.

Cybercriminals are relentless and try multiple ways to scam the innocent out of their time and hard-earned money. These tactics are called phishing attempts.

A recent scam impacting U students, and students across the nation, offers a personal assistant position with a professor. While the professor’s name is real, the position is fake, and the personal information requested leads to the loss of money and even identity theft.

Cybercriminals will use a variety of deceptive tactics to entice you to open a link or attachment, download a file, provide personal information via email or text message, or visit a website. Often, the scam emails have no subject line, and the content of the email is an image, not text, because the scammer is trying to subvert the U’s phishing detection measures. Scammer ploys are well-crafted and designed to trick students, so being skeptical and vigilant when you receive such emails will help to prevent criminals from taking advantage of you.


If someone suggests they will send you a check, then asks you to purchase gift cards and send them photos of the backs of the cards…THAT IS A SCAM. You will never be paid. Do not respond to the scammer. Instead, immediately forward the email as an attachment to


If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Question everything.

  • It can be flattering to receive an unsolicited job offer, but why you?
  • Do you know the professor? Are you familiar with their work?
  • Are you interested in studying or pursuing a career in that field?
  • What information are they asking you to submit to them? Even if it’s just your phone number, scammers will leverage that info to continue the scam via text message. This allows the criminal to circumvent university IT security measures.
  • Look closely at website and email addresses, could they be fakes?

Also, if it sounds too bad to be true, it probably is.

  • Think critically if you receive an email, phone call, text, or voicemail saying you are in trouble, or your information has been compromised.
  • Don’t respond to the message/call. Instead, reach out to verified phone numbers and email addresses for University of Utah offices like University IT, Human Resources, or the Dean of Students for guidance.

If an email, call, or textmessage seems unusual or scares you, making you think you need to respond, it’s probably a scam.

  • If you receive a phishing attempt through your UMail account, forward the email as an attachment to and U Police at If you’re not sure whether an email is a phishing attempt, do not respond, and immediately send it to so the ISO can analyze it and get back to you.

Resources from the Information Security Office: