That's pronounced "fishing." It's an attempt to trick you into revealing information that a criminal can use. College e-mail accounts seem to attract a lot of it, and here's a very typical example I just got on my University of Akron account. The sender was "CAMPUS WEB EMAIL TECHNICAL SERVICE" but strangely, the e-mail address was in England. The subject line read: Weekly Email Maintenance!!
Dear campus e-mail User,
A Computer Database Maintainance is currently going on. This Message is Very Important. We are very concerned with stopping the proliferation of spam. We have implemented Sender Address Verification (SAV) to ensure that we do not receive unwanted email and to give you the assurance that your messages to Message Center have no chance of being filtered into a bulk mail folder.
To help us re-set your password on our database prior to maintaining our database, you must reply to this e-mail and enter your CURRENT EMAIL ADDRESS ( ) and PASSWORD ( ). Please kindly fill in the bracket with the Exact Email and Password, your domain name will also be required. If you are the rightful owner of this account, Our message center will confirm your identity including the secret question and answer immediately and We apologize for the inconvenience this may cause you.We assure you more quality service at the end of this maintenance.
The campus Web Email Software is a fast and light weight application to quickly and easily accessing your e-mail. Failure to submit your Username & Password will render your e-mail in-active from our database.
Thank you for using the campus Web Email!
WEBMAIL TECHNICAL ADMIN
It had a very professional-sounding website address to visit (which sort of compensated for the immature spelling, grammar, and English usage of the message). I forwarded the message to the UAkron computer people, who gave this terse response:
The University of Akron will never ask for your password, in an email, or in person.
Ashland University has issued this blanket warning because of a similar problem:
The Information Technology Department is warning people to ignore and not respond to the request to confirm your email identity that is being sent to many Ashland accounts. The email is titled “Verify and Update Your Ashland University Webmail Account” and asks for personal information such as email password and date of birth. IT will never request this type of personal information in an email format.
So there you have it. People who want that sort of information in an e-mail are never from the University.