We live our lives online. Checking email, doing business, studying for classes, making plans with friends, sharing the latest trend on social media. You might be reading this document online right now.
Internet use is such a large part of our daily routine that it’s easy to forget the risks involved. Increasingly, online scams are directed at our community, and victims falling prey to these scams could lose hundreds or thousands of dollars.
The most common scams involve fraudulent job offers or scholarship offers. During these scams, potential victims receive an offer for monetary compensation for a little work or an offer for a scholarship. Victims then receive a check for more than the agreed amount with instructions to deposit the check and then forward the difference to a third party in the form of a money order or pre-paid card or gift card. The original check deposited into the victim’s account is then found to be fraudulent, and the victim is out of the full amount. Another type of scam involves receiving correspondence from a supervisor or coworker asking a potential victim to purchase gift cards from some urgent need with the assurance of reimbursement.
Scammers may also impersonate the University to trick you into divulging passwords, banking information, or other personal information.
Most of the online scams directed at the University community are email-based. However, scammers can also use social media, phone calls, and text messages to contact potential victims. There are other types of online scams as well, and the FTC publishes a list of the most common online scams.
In general, the following tips will decrease your chances of falling prey to online scams:
- If a job or scholarship offer seems too good to be true, it most likely is;
- NEVER accept an offer that requires you to deposit funds into your account in excess of the actual payment, and then forward a portion elsewhere.
- NEVER accept an offer that involves the purchase of gift cards or other similar payment mechanisms.
- NEVER provide credentials, bank account information, login names, passwords, or other identifying information via email.
- ALWAYS verify the legitimacy of any request that appears to be from a supervisor or co-worker before taking any urgent action.
- ALWAYS use directories, Google and social media searches, the telephone, or other media to confirm that people are who they claim to be. For your own safety, if you are arranging your first face-to-face meeting with someone you met online, be sure to meet in a public place with friends present.
If you encounter online safety concerns, online scams or computer and network misuse, report the incident to the University’s Office of Information Security at email@example.com. The Office of Information Security will promptly investigate and refer matters to appropriate authorities.