A Student’s Guide to Help you Avoid Online Scams

A Student’s Guide to Help you Avoid Online Scams

No matter how old you are, there are always some scams targeting your age group, especially in the online environment. Internet users are so many and so active these days, that scammers become increasingly versatile and cunning. Many fake ads, websites, or shady platforms have deprived people of their hard-earned money for the past years, and students were never an exception. If your main concern is getting through college, make sure you avoid wasting your precious, and maybe scarce financial resources by falling for an online scam. Here is a guide to help you avoid getting tricked.

Spot and Avoid Phishing Emails and Websites

Many scammers are relying on different online strategies to get hold of people’s personal data. Information such as names, addresses, bank account information, or social security numbers can be used for a variety of purposes. One of the most common is impersonation. By impersonating you, scammers can open bank accounts, or other accounts or credit lines, and even apply for benefits you qualify for. To avoid this, be cautious and avoid registering your personal details on shady websites, especially if you didn’t intend to access them and you don’ know how you landed on those pages. Also, avoid opening and following the instructions you get in emails that come from unknown senders, especially if they ask for your personal information.

Use Strong Passwords

Your accounts are as safe as your passwords. Not surprisingly many platforms require you to create complex passwords that contain a variety of characters. The more complicated password is, the harder it is to crack. Creating a simple password, such as one made of your name and birth date exposes you to hacking risks, especially if you’re not using any antivirus on your device. As a rule of thumb, try to create the strongest passwords for accounts where you’ve registered many personal details, especially your banking information. For example, use passwords that have approximately 10 characters, contain both lowercase and uppercase letters, numbers, and special characters.

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Use an Antivirus

These programs don’t cost a fortune and their benefits go far beyond simply protecting your PC against malware that slows it down. Many hackers create and infect users’ computers with programs that access their personal files and their accounts. If you don’t use an antivirus as a line of defense against this malware, you risk letting hackers grab your banking details, address, and different other sensitive data. Most antiviruses block these threats as soon as you download a potentially dangerous attachment or access a suspicious link. Moreover, with one subscription, you can protect more than one device. This way, you keep hackers out of your PC, phone, and tablet at the same time.

Make Safe Payments

One of the biggest concerns you may have while browsing and shopping online is the safety of your bank account. Your worry is perfectly justified as lots of people get scammed online and end up paying for products they never receive. However, the worst part is to suddenly realize that money is missing from your bank account because it was hacked. To prevent ill-intentioned people from accessing your funds, use all the extra security measures that can keep your bank account safe, such as 2FA (two-factor access authentication). This method adds an extra layer of security to the online payment process as each transaction is checked and validated twice. Once when you log into your account to make the payment and the second time when you enter the unique code you get via email or phone. This method increases your safety. Even if someone manages to get your credentials or your bank account information, to be able to successfully purchase goods on your behalf or transfer money, they would need the unique registration code you get on your smartphone.

Be Wary of Unexpected, Too-Good-to-Be-True Offers

To get people’s attention and their sensitive data, scammers often lure them with incredible offers. Whether we are talking about a great discount, a free trial, or job offers that promise an above the average salary, be careful. The first golden rule to steer clear of online scams is to be cautious and wary of offers that seem too good to be true, especially if they come out of the blue as unsolicited emails or you find them through an online ad.

Be careful at all times while browsing the internet and implement the security measures above for your peace of mind and financial safety!

Lakeland University Scam – Key Red Flags to Watch out For

Many educational institutions have been targeted by hackers during the past months. The main purpose of the scams that have been reported by several U.S. universities was to obtain students’ or teachers’ sensitive data. Lakeland University is one of the notorious cases that made headlines this year as it has repeatedly been subject to hacking attempts.

What Is the Purpose of University Scams?

University scams have usually been carried out through phishing emails. Once ill-intentioned people gain access to sensitive personal information such as names, addresses, social security numbers, etc., they can carry out different fraudulent activities. Impersonating the people whose data they steal is the most common. This can and often does cause different complications for the real person whose identity is highjacked. All of a sudden, they get a phone call or an email about an account they haven’t opened, a debt they own, or products that were purchased in their name.

The Lakeland University Scam

This spring, Lake University has become the topic of many scam- and fraud-related articles as the famous educational institution was bombarded by phishing emails. The scam came to light with the help of people who have reported it to the IRS (International Revenue Service). The IRS started receiving a high number of complaints related to email addresses ending in ‘.edu’ that were targeted by hackers who impersonated them. Apparently, the predilect victims were university and college students, many of which were enrolled in study programs at Lakeland University. The university’s staff was no exception as they also received suspicious emails. Similar complaints were filed by different other private educational institutions, as well as non-profit institutions.

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Most of the phishing emails involved taxes or social security benefits. The targeted people were giving notices regarding their due taxes and their obligation to pay them or were promised benefits. Either way, the purpose was to convince them to reply to the email with a series of personal details such as their full name, address, SSN, or bank account.

In response to the unusually high number of complaints they received, especially from educational institutions, a notorious case being Lakeland University, the IRS has issued official warnings. First and foremost, they advise people not to reply to any email sent to their ‘.edu’ email address that apparently comes from the IRS. Besides, they usually recommend anyone not to open or reply to any of these emails, regardless of the address they receive them on. The reason why these emails can be deemed fake is that the IRS doesn’t use email to communicate with taxpayers. Nor do they call taxpayers, which is important to add as some of the victims that were scammed through phishing emails also got IRS impersonation calls. The real IRS only communicates with taxpayers through officially registered mail.

Moreover, the IRS warned people to be wary of any alleged IRS agents that pressure them or threaten them if they don’t pay or provide their personal data. Some foreign students have even been threatened by fake IRS agents and told they would lose their immigration status. It is out of IRS’s scope to revoke a student’s immigration status. Moreover, the IRS would never threaten people by email or phone saying they will bring in law enforcement agencies if the person is not paying their taxes.

Evers since the phishing emails emerged, Lakeland University has taken multiple measures and worked with security specialists to stop the attacks and safeguard its students’ and its teachers’ personal information. However, despite the multiple safety measures implemented, hackers still managed to bypass the university’s sturdy blocking system and continue sending emails to some of its staff and students. 

As the chief of Information Technology of Lakeland University explained, the institution has implemented a system that virtually aims to block all unwanted emails and direct them to the IT department only.

In conclusion, to steer clear of daunting similar situations, when you receive an email on your university email address from an institution and you’re asked to provide sensitive personal information, forward it to the real entity to ask for details. Alternatively, call that institution to check if the request is real.

Post by Clearwater Management Korea @ All rights reserved.

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About the Author: Amanda Byers

Amanda Byers is a graduate of Columbia, where she played volleyball and annoyed a lot of professors. Now as Zubuz’s entertainment and Lifestyle Editor, she enjoys writing about delicious BBQ, outrageous style trends and all things Buzz worthy.