Privacy and Information Security | University of Illinois

Phishing

Learn how to avoid falling victim to one of the most common online identity theft scams.

What is phishing?

Phishing is a technique identity thieves use to steal your personal information, usually passwords or financial information. Like a fisherman using a lure to hook a fish, identity thieves try to lure you into giving up personal information by making what looks like a legitimate request from an organization you trust. These might look like they are from a bank, credit card company, or even the University. Unfortunately, phishing scams can be highly effective.

Phishing can be very easy to spot or it can be surprisingly subtle: when you receive an email or phone call from an institution you don't do business with, it is easy to recognize the message as a scam. However, sophisticated phishing attempts use emails and phone calls that are crafted to look and sound like an official message from your bank, credit card company, or the University of Illinois. 

Increasingly, phishing messages do not ask for you to respond with your information by email. Instead these messages have links that look like they will send you to a legitimate site, but instead send you to a copy designed to steal your personal information. To be safe do not click on links in the email; visit websites by typing the web address directly into your browser's address bar.

It is important that you learn to spot phishing attempts - no matter what they look like - to protect yourself and your personal information.

Learn more about phishing