Ashland University is on Google (Gmail) for all our student and employee email. As a result, the amount of fraudulent email (spam or phishing) has decreased substantially. Still, every once in a while an email gets through that is not legitimate. Here are the tell-tale signs that give an email away as spam or phishing:
Anything from the "HelpDesk", "Help Desk", "Customer Service Department" or "Information Services" - None of these departments or areas exist here at Ashland University We changed the name from our Help Desk to the Technical Support Center (or TSC) so anything from the "HelpDesk" is likely not worth opening. The Help Desk is an ubiquitous term - that is why they use it and that is one of the reasons we no longer use it.
Anything starting with "Dear Sir or Madam" or "Dear Account Holder" - Really, we know your name and we will use it if there is something we need to contact you personally on.
Anything with "Your account is about to expire" or "Account limits exceed" - These are intended to make you worry about losing access and, in haste, click on a link that takes you to places you should not to in order to gain more information about you that you should not be parting with. If your Ashland University password is about to expire then you get a warning at login and you can change it yourself using the self-service password reset tool. While our password reset tool does send out reminders about password expiration and resets, the email will contain your first and last name in the salutation. This from address used is email@example.com.
Anything with a foreign address unless you do business with people from outside the US - The two letter country code designation (.cn, .se, .nl, etc.) indicate an email is from outside the US. If you see this two letter code in the link you are being asked to go to then that too is outside the US. If you have prior business with a company or person in the company from which the email is originating then give it a close look, otherwise it is probable junk email.
Anything from someone you do not know or email from someone you do know but were not expecting - If I haven't heard from my old Navy buddy in 30 years and suddenly get an email with an attachment I will not be opening the attachment. Likewise, if someone I talk with often sends me attachments or links to websites then I am going to be very skeptical. Sometime legitimate email accounts are compromised and taken over by spammers so if the email address is known, but the subject and content are out of place then I would pick up the phone and give them a call.