By MARTY LEVINE
Spammers are increasingly targeting Pitt employees with pitches for retirement and investment counseling. Some come from real people in the financial advising business — outside of Pitt — who are soliciting business, but many are just spam, phishing for you to click on a malicious link or respond and provide personal information to the spammer.
One such recent spam from “firstname.lastname@example.org” had the subject line: “Retirement And Pension Meetings for University of Pittsburgh Employees” and began: “As a valued employee of the University of Pittsburgh, you are eligible to receive a free consultation for answers to your retirement benefit questions.”
Law librarian Linda Tashbook, chair of the University Senate’s Benefits and Welfare Committee, “encourages colleagues to be conscientious consumers and, if they desire, to block these unwanted solicitations in Outlook.” She suggests that, instead of responding to such spam, Pitt faculty and staff arrange to talk with a consultant or advisor at Pitt’s retirement fund provider, TIAA, via a link on the HR website.
Pitt IT is aware of this latest spam onslaught. In just three weeks in September, for instance, Pitt IT blocked 5,500 messages from “scheduler+retirementexpert.net “ although about 700 were delivered (thanks to the spammer switching domain names, or Pitt employees allowing Outlook to let through spam, releasing the messages from quarantine manually or allowing messages from outside accounts to be forwarded to Pitt).
Pitt IT spokesperson Brady Lutsko notes that, comparing fiscal year 2021 to 2022:
The average number of phishing attempts blocked daily increased by 162 percent from 2,765 to 4,468.
The average number of spam messages blocked each day grew by 127 percent, from 96,250 to 121,827 (with an additional 552,538 spam messages blocked at the network perimeter daily).
Pitt employees are still subject to fraudulent job scams including work-from-home scams, fake COVID-19 support plan offers, payments-in-progress scams and fake help desk messages, he says, and should forward such messages as an attachment, to email@example.com.
Marty Levine is a staff writer for the University Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-758-4859.
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