Phishing scams and how to protect yourself




Target audience: McGill faculty, students and staff

Phishing is the fraudulent process of attempting to acquire sensitive information by pretending to be a legitimate/trusted organization or institution. This article provides information on how to recognize, prevent and report phishing attacks.

In this article:



If you have already clicked a link or opened a file attachment in a suspicious email, please contact the IT Service Desk immediately by calling 514-398-3398. 

You can quickly report a suspicious email by using the Report Message, Report Junk, or Report Phishing buttons in any Outlook app, including Outlook on the web ( 

Note: If the email is already in your Junk Email folder, you do not need to report it. 

For more details, see Report suspicious emails

In addition, we invite you to take the Cyber Security Essentials Training course for all faculty, staff and students.

Introduction to Phishing

Phishing attempts appear in many forms, including but not limited to: email, popup windows, instant messages, and phone calls. These often involve trying to make you click on a link that leads to a fraudulent website, where you will submit the desired information.

Phishing can happen to anyone: How to recognize a phishing attack

Did you accidentally fall victim to a phishing email? It can happen to almost anyone, at any time. If you do get hooked by a phishing attack it is critical that you report it right away!

Recognize a Phishing Attack before you take the bait:

There are common clues that can help you identify a phishing attack as soon as it hits your inbox. Be on the lookout for these signs:

We know the bad guys can be tricky. If you suspect an email is a phishing attack, or you think that you may have fallen victim to one, help us by reporting it right away.

The 7 red flags of phishing

Other types of scams

In addition to email, scams can also be facilitated by phone. In these cases, the fraudsters will often impersonate government or law enforcement officials in an attempt to scam you out of large sums of money. Below is some information from the Government of Canada on how to recognize these scams and help avoid becoming a victim: