FBI Issues Warning over Scam Targeting College Students – How Can Scams Be Avoided?

article by Hector A. author
The FBI recently issued a warning to college students across the US after a scam involving fake checks for was brought to its attention. This new scam promises college students that a check is waiting for them, for purchasing various office supplies and stationery for their new jobs.

The Internet Crime Complaint Center Website offered a public-service announcement to college students to the effect that this scam is ingenious. The cleverly-crafted checks appear to be authentic, but they are 100% fake. The way it works is as follows: The scam artist targets college students at employment websites, or utilizes recruiting lists to obtain student email addresses.

FBI Plays Hardball: Don’t Engage and Report All Internet Scams ASAP

The scammer then makes offers of employment to the recent graduates or the college student. The student is then sent a check to purchase office supplies for the new position. The software that the student is required to purchase can only be purchased from a third-party vendor. Payment must be made via a money transfer service. Once the student has deposited the check and wired the money, the balance can be retained as payment. However, the check itself is fake. As soon as the bank realizes this scheme, the student will lose a substantial sum of money and potentially take a hit on his/her credit score. The FBI stresses the importance of checking the source of the email. Almost always, the sender is a non-English speaker, and the offer of payment before any work has been done is also a clear sign that something is amiss.

One of the biggest problems with depositing fake checks – besides being blacklisted by banks – is that the scam artist will have access to a person’s sensitive bank information. Unfortunately, identity theft is an all too common occurrence with scammers and their victims. To counter these threats, the FBI has instructed all college students and recent graduates not to engage with the scam artists in any way. The FBI has a fully operational Crime Complaint Center which is expressly designed to deal with these types of complaints.

How Can College Students Protect Their Computers from Scammers?

Fortunately, there are many ways to protect a computer from scammers. The thing about scams is that everyone is a potential target. The scam artist does not discriminate along economic, racial, or gender lines. The whole point of a scam is to infiltrate a person’s PC and steal sensitive information. The misconception that only naïve people fall victim to scams is quickly changing. The truth of the matter is that anyone and everyone can accidentally fall into a trap laid by scam artists.

As a college student, you will want to be aware that scams are real and rampant. Legitimate business operations will never offer payment before any work has been done. As a rule, students are advised to simply delete any suspicious emails that make it through the spam filters of Yahoo, Gmail, college email accounts and the like. Likewise, any pop-up windows that appear via email or text messages should be deleted.

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Effective Antivirus Software Guards against Threats 24/7

Standard operating procedure with personal information should always remain in place. For example, never reveal passwords and pin numbers to anyone. All important documents should be shredded, flushed, or destroyed. Of equal importance is the type of information that is publicly available – social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and G + are havens for prying eyes. Scammers can Photoshop pictures of students and then steal sensitive personal information and create fake ID cards. For this reason, it is never a wise idea to keep the same username/password combinations across multiple accounts. Passwords should be changed on a frequent basis.

If a mobile phone, tablet, or PC gets lost or is disposed of, it’s important to change all passwords ASAP. Naturally, an effective antivirus program is essential to safeguarding devices against scams. One of the most respected antivirus software programs on the market is TotalAV. Students can sample this with a 30-day free trial. Among its many features are rapid malware scanning and malware quarantine. This antivirus program can scan PCs and instantly remove viruses from the system. Another high-quality antivirus program is ZoneAlarm by Check Point. It also offers students a 30-day free trial, along with 2-way firewall protection, technical support and anti-phishing security measures. Students can never be too cautious about their online safety. All it takes is one phishing scam or pharming scam to get through, but fortunately antivirus software can nip these scams in the bud.