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Cybersecurity Scam of the Week – Spot and Avoid Home-Related Fraud this Winter

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This week’s scam report comes from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Between inflation and higher energy prices, expect a larger-than-average utility bill during the colder months. Any offer to help reduce that bill or offer energy efficiency services might come at a price.

As you look for ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency and cut costs, here’s how to spot and avoid weather-related fraud this winter:

  • Be skeptical of products or services that promise drastic savings. Search online for the company or product name with words like “scam” or “complaint.”
  • Resist high-pressure door-to-door sales calls for heating systems, windows, and other home improvement products. Pressure to act fast is a sign of a scam. Find a contractor who’s licensed and reputable, and remember that the Cooling-Off Rule gives you three business days to cancel if you sign the contract anywhere other than the contractor’s permanent place of business.
  • Get any offers to reduce your utility bills in writing before you accept or sign a contract. Consider how long the offer or discount will be valid. Ask about the length of the contract or commitment, and if it involves early termination fees.
  • Spot utility scamsRecognize scammers impersonating your utility company and threatening to shut off your service. One way to tell: anyone who tells you to pay with a gift card, cryptocurrency, or by wiring money through companies like Western Union or MoneyGram is a scammer.
  • Check to see if you can get help from the Low Income Home Assistance Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

What has been reported to abuse@uthsc.edu this past week?

  • [Ext] Order confirmation:HHVG1SV – this is an auto-renewal scam using McAfee’s name for anti-virus protection
  • Personal Assistant Service – from a compromised account from another UT campus (notice there is no [Ext] in the Subject line), this is a too-good-to-be-true scam
  • [Ext] IT SUPPORT DESK (ALERT) – first, UTHSC ITS has a Service Desk, not a Support Desk, and second, we wouldn’t ask you to “log in” to verify information
  • [Ext] change request – this is another request from a Gmail account to change banking information for an employee before the next payroll cycle. Payroll has specific procedures in place so that others can’t impersonate you and take your paycheck. 
  • [Ext] Send data from TMF574934 10/13/2022 – wanting the recipient to click on a link to “open a fax”
  • [Ext] ==Task October 14 – someone’s name was spoofed, meaning the From field looked like it was from a coworker, but using a Gmail account, asking a coworker to perform a task while they were unavailable. This is the start of a gift card scam. 

Keep reporting suspicious emails to abuse@uthsc.edu for examination. If you wish to report an incident to the Office of Cybersecurity, use TechConnect.