Phishing on the phone: Beware the scammer’s call

March 30, 2016

Everyone with an email account has probably received a “phishy” message or two in their day. We are reminded regularly not to share bank account numbers, passwords, and other personal information with strangers via email.  And you know that ITS will never ask for such information in an email – or through a link in an email.  Never, ever.  Seriously!

But the truth is, email is only one vehicle scammers use to try to trick you.  The telephone has been a popular medium on campus and in Southwest Wisconsin lately.  Two recent examples include:

  • March 9 – Campus Police take reports of Pioneers receiving calls from people impersonating employees from authoritative bodies like the FBI and IRS requesting money under threat of arrest.
  • March 11 – ITS staff member receives phone call from “rep” from “the Computer Licensing Department” claiming the employee’s computer has been compromised by someone in China and the rep needed to fix it by remotely controlling the employee’s computer. 

These callers can be very convincing. How do you tell the difference between a scammer and a legitimate call?  According to the Better Business Bureau, “Understanding the science behind [scammers’] techniques will help protect you against new scams.” Find an explanation of the “Science of Scams” and helpful tips to avoid being tricked at

Tax time is a ripe time for scammers

During this time of the year there are many different forms of identity theft and tax return fraud that could cross your path. Treat requests for your user name/ID, social security number, tax information, or communications claiming to be from the IRS or your Human Resources department with a "healthy dose of paranoia."

You can find a detailed list of common tax scams and consumer alerts on the IRS website at . Or see below for two helpful links.

And remember: W-2s for all UW employees (including student employees) are distributed electronically through the MyWisconsin portal. Do not go to any other source for an electronic copy of your employee W-2.

If you have concerns about any communication you receive, please contact the ITS Help Desk at 608.342.1400 or  You may also find helpful resources in the ITS Knowledge Base.


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