Your Better Business Bureau (BBB) would like to bring attention to a warning from the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) regarding cybercrime directed at universities and students. IC3 issued this press release on May 5, 2014 describing what it calls, “multiple scams targeting universities, university employees, and students across the nation.” The press release warns that cybercriminals are phishing for personal information from university professors, employees and students in an effort to fraudulently redirect funds.
One of the schemes described by IC3 involves tricking university professors and employees into supplying their login information by pretending to be school administrators. Cybercriminals can then redirect payroll to accounts they have stolen from students through fraudulent online employment offers. Another scheme involves stealing funds from student loans by stealing students’ personal information and redirecting the funds to other accounts. IC3 provides the following link to report such crimes www.ic3.gov and encourages victims to contact the university police.
Your BBB encourages all employees to be careful of emails claiming you need to enter your login information. Whatever industry you are in, be sure to check with a superior and your IT department before entering any sensitive login information especially through an email link. If someone calls claiming they need your authorization for office supplies or some other order, refer them to the correct personnel and never give them an opportunity to record you saying “yes” which can be fraudulently used to bill your employer for materials they never ordered. Remember if you are an employee of a college or university, cybercriminals are not only interested in compromising employee information but students’ personal information as well.
College students have long been a favorite target for grant and work-at-home schemes. Students typically apply for scholarships or tuition assistance and may be confused by all of the different paperwork they have to manage. They may not detect that someone is phishing for their identity and may not realize that they should never have to pay to receive funds. College students often need employment and may search for unconventional job opportunities online. While this can be successful, it also can be very risky as promises of work also come with requests for your bank account information supposedly for payroll. College students may not have the time to monitor their bank account and may not detect that it is being used fraudulently.
Some tips for college students include:
• Never give any bank account information or student loan information over the phone or online. Remember that anyone can call or email claiming to be with the university or student loan office.
• Monitor your bank account by setting up alerts from your bank for any account activity. In cases IC3 describes, criminals have been putting money fraudulently into student accounts to move the money. Just because you have a small balance in your bank account does not mean you can’t be a target for cybercrime.
• Verify any job opportunity before providing personal information. This can be challenging online but it is extremely important. Remember it could be a cybercriminal on the other end of that email or online post. Avoid any offer claiming to pay you large amounts of money for simple work regardless of your qualifications and avoid any offer that wants your bank account without reviewing your qualifications or confirming your identity.
• Do not wire money or provide prepaid credit card information to someone claiming you have won a scholarship or grant. You should not have to pay money to receive these funds. Even if they send you a check, checks can easily be faked resulting in the bank removing the funds. Typically the money sent to pay the “fee” cannot be traced or recovered.
With the hectic life that college students already lead and the challenges of financial aid and employment, cybercriminals often see an opportunity. If you are attending a college or university or you are an employee of an educational institution, take steps to protect yourself from cybercrime. For more information you can trust, visit bbb.org/Evansville.