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University of Houston-Victoria

ID Theft / Phishing and Pharming

Identity theft, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), occurs when someone, without your knowledge or permission, uses your name, Social Security number, date of birth, bank or credit card account numbers, or other identifying information to commit fraud or other crimes. Phishing and pharming are two of the most common methods that thieves use to obtain this information.

Phishing (pronounced "fishing") is not similar to the fun and relaxing outdoor pastime that comes to mind. Phishing is so named because computer spammers use fraudulent email and instant messages to "fish" for personal and financial information. For example, an email of this type may ask you to provide personal information in order to verify or reinstate your banking privileges.

Pharming (pronounced "farming") is far removed from the practice of cultivating land. Pharming is the fraudulent practice of tampering with domain name server systems in order to redirect a website's traffic to bogus or spoofed sites.

Here are some signs that may indicate that you have already become a victim of identity theft:

  • Bills are not arriving as expected.
  • Denials of credit are occurring for no apparent reason.
  • Unexpected credit cards are opened in your name or you receive unexpected account statements.
  • Calls or letters about purchases that you did not make arrive in the mail.

Red Flag Rule

University of Houston-Victoria has implemented a written Identity Theft Prevention Program to detect, prevent, and mitigate identity theft. The purpose of the Red Flag Rule is to detect and stop identity thieves from using someone else's identifying information at University of Houston-Victoria to commit fraud.

Anytime a change is made on one of your official records at the University of Houston-Victoria, a Red Flag Rule Email notification is automatically sent to alert you of the change. Changes may be the result of you making a change directly or business processes which have updated official records for one of the following reasons.

Email Notification is sent if:

  • You have recently applied for admission as a student.
  • Your application or student status has recently changed.
  • Your official personnel record has recently changed.

Security Risk

  • Phishing
  • Pharming
  • Fraudulent or "spoofed" websites

Best Practices

  • Do not give out personal information to websites that are not secure.
  • Look for an icon of an unbroken key or a lock that's closed or glowing to identify a secure website.
  • Monitor your credit report.
  • Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
  • File a police report with local law enforcement officials.
  • Report your theft to the Federal Trade Commission.