School is just around the corner for college students, and Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Arizona is cautioning University of Arizona students and faculty to be on guard against identity theft and Internet fraud, as well as several unique scams targeting universities.
The Federal Trade Commission received more identity theft complaints from 20-29 year-old consumers than any other age group in 2013. This continued a trend in recent years that has seen college-aged consumers victimized by identity thieves at a higher rate than older Americans.
This is one of the many reasons that university campuses have turned into popular hunting grounds for identity thieves and Internet fraudsters. The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center- www.ic3.gov- recently called attention to several different scams they have seen that target universities, students, and faculty across the country:
- Spear phishing e-mails are being sent to university employees that appear to be from their employer. The e-mail contains a link and claims some type of issue has risen requiring them to enter their log-in credentials. Once employees provide their user name and password, the perpetrator accesses the university’s computer system to redirect the employees’ payroll allocation to another bank account. The university employees’ payroll allocations are being deposited into students’ accounts. These students were hired through online advertisements for work-at-home jobs, and provided their bank account information to the perpetrators to receive payment for the work they performed.
- Scammers are posting online advertisements soliciting college students for administrative positions in which they would receive checks via the mail or e-mail. Students are directed to deposit the checks into their accounts, and then print checks and/or wire money to an individual. Students are never asked to provide their bank account information to the perpetrators.
- Hackers are gaining access to students’ university accounts, and stealing student loan money earmarked for tuition, textbooks, and living expenses.
- Perpetrators are obtaining professors’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and using it to file fraudulent income tax returns.
- Some universities have been victims of intrusions, resulting in the perpetrators being able to access university databases containing information on their employees and students.
BBB is a warning students and faculty to be extra careful when responding to emails, online advertisements or job postings this school year.
For more tips for how to avoid identity theft and online fraud, students can visit www.stopthinkconnect.org to learn more about how they can keep their identities safe online.