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Watch out for hoaxes, scams and phishing attempts

Recently, a 4-H leader received this message:

Hello Jane Doe (the real name of the recipient was used)
Are you available? I need you to make a payment to a vendor on behalf of the club.
lt’s an outstanding payment for an order made. You will be reimbursed. 
Let me know if you can handle this right away so i can send you the details.

The potential scammers used the leader's real name and referenced "the club", adding credibility to this phishing hoax. But because this 4-H leader was suspicious and directly contacted their co-leader who appeared to send this, the message was determined to be a hoax and everything turned out well.

The best defense against potential scammers is our own human ability to evaluate messages we receive online, and when appropriate, to be skeptical and ask more questions before taking any action (including clicking on any link.)

For more information, this article from the SANS Security Institute's OUCH newsletter contains information that can help you to spot phishing attempts and follow up appropriately.

University of Minnesota IT reminds everyone to be vigilant and offers guidance and advice.