The University of Minnesota’s HR department send me an email in January telling me that I had to submit to a background check. The good news: I do them all the time.
The bad news: the background check company can only complete the check if you follow a URL embedded in an email.
This is how phishing emails work. The email comes from a convincing-sounding source, like the University’s HR department, or some third-party on their behalf. You respond to it, only to find that it really wasn’t the HR department collecting the information.
Bottom line: you can’t trust email. No matter how many times it says “This isn’t a spam email,” or “This isn’t a phishing email,” you can’t trust email.
[Update 5 January 2018: The UMN HR department has sent me TWO possible phishes as I prepare to take up my reappointment. I passed this to the IT Security people. They have ‘spoken to’ the HR department, and they started a phishing blog.]