UT Austin warns about COVID-19 email scams

The University of Texas at Austin is warning the campus community about email scams related to COVID-19.

Chief Information Security Officer Cam Beasley says to be on guard for email phishing attempts and other scams targeting fears with promises of vaccines, investment opportunities, and dangerous links that appear to come from trusted sources.

“Malicious actors are using this opportunity to entice victims into opening dangerous links and attachments that can damage computers or compromise personal information,” said Beasley.

UT Austin provided these tips from the Federal Trade Commission on how to avoid falling prey to scams:

  • Don’t click on links from sources you don’t know as it could download a virus onto your computer or device. Make sure anti-malware and anti-virus software is up to date.
  • Beware of emails claiming to be from the CDC or experts saying they have information about the virus. For the most up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit the CDC and the World Health Organization sites.
  • Ignore online offers for vaccinations. If you see ads touting prevention, treatment, or cure claims for the coronavirus, ask yourself, “If there’s been a medical breakthrough, would I be hearing about it for the first time through an ad or sales pitch?”
  • Do your homework when it comes to donations, whether through charities or crowdfunding sites. Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. If someone wants donations in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it.
  • Be alert to “investment opportunities.” The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is warning people about online promotions, including on social media, claiming that products or services of publicly-traded companies can prevent, detect, or cure coronavirus and that the stock of these companies will dramatically increase in value as a result.

For more information, Beasley says to refer to these ISO resources: 

Beasley says anyone who suspects they have been a victim of a phishing attempt or fear their university accounts have been compromised should contact the UT Service Desk at 512-475-9400 or by email at help@its.utexas.edu.