Students have been on high alert since receiving suspicious financial-aid emails claiming to come from VCU during the past few weeks.
Some of these messages have been identified as questionable marketing, such as those linked to Citibank. Another percentage have come from the domain “edirect1” and later flagged as spam and blocked from VCU’s mailing list.
Several students are wondering how these companies are gaining access to university email addresses. VCU Information Security Officer Dan Han said students’ contact information is publicly available.
“The student email addresses are listed in the VCU directory … as public information. It is possible that these marketing firms have obtained student email addresses from this source,” Han said. “Phishing and spam are commonly seen on campus, and VCU is taking active steps in protecting its students and employees from these threats.”
While these student-loan ads are not considered phishing scams, VCU Tech Services advises students not to click links from unknown email sources. Still, the dangers of the situation remain because these messages often contain unreliable information and tactics, which could lead to more dangerous spam in the future.
VCU senior Zarmeena Waseem says she also has received a few suspicious student-loan emails.
“Not only are they appearing to come from VCU, it’s something that’s illegitimate anyway,” Waseem said. “So if students mistakenly give out their information, it can be really dangerous.”
When students become aware of potentially fraudulent emails, they are urged to contact VCU HelpIT center at 828 – 2227 or helpIT@vcu.edu or VCU Office of Information Security at firstname.lastname@example.org.