Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense for college students.
Parents—this time of year is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Your kids are headed to college, and whether you are excited or just relieved that they will finally be out of your hair, the stress is real. Beyond the emotional toll this can take, your wallet is about to take a hit, too. Tuition, books, room and board, not to mention the mini-fridge, midnight pizza runs, and more can break the bank.
Time for this kid to get a job, right ?! Yes—with some caveats. College students are particularly vulnerable to getting suckered by scammers offering great jobs with good pay. They often advertise around college campuses or even send e-mails to their student accounts.
It’s easy to apply—simply fill out an online application, complete with personal information such as full name, date of birth, and Social Security number. The scam artist now has everything he needs to steal the student’s identity. He can open fraudulent bank accounts, credit cards, and the like with ease.
In some cases, the fraudster will send the student a check as a signing bonus or first paycheck. The student is asked to cash the check, take a bit out for himself, and send the rest to a specified vendor for supplies or needed software. The check, of course, is bogus, and the fraudster actually controls the bank account of what your student thought was a legitimate business vendor.
The bank may close your student’s account due to the fraudulent activity, and he is now responsible for reimbursing the bank for the counterfeit check. His credit history takes a hit, too.
So how can a student protect himself from such a scam?
* Never accept a job that requires depositing checks into your account or wiring portions of such checks to other individuals or accounts.
* Many of the scammers who send these messages are not native English speakers. Look for poor use of the English language in e-mails such as incorrect grammar, capitalization, and tenses.
* Forward suspicious e-mails to the college’s IT personnel.
Employment scams are not the only concern for college students these days. Next week, we will look at other ways fraudsters are going after your kids.
In the meantime, if you have been victimized by an online scam, report your suspicious contacts to the FBI. You can file an online report at the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at www.ic3.gov or call your FBI local office.