FBI Portland
Beth Anne Steele
(503) 460-8099
September 26, 2017

FBI's Tech Tuesday: Building a Digital Defense for College Students - Part 2 (Phishing & Impersonation Scams)

Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: building a digital defense for college students.

Last week, we talked about college students getting scammed by fraudsters who trick them into thinking they can get easy, well-paying jobs. In the end, the fraudster ends up stealing the student’s identity and, maybe, even cash out of their bank account.

This week, we are talking about two other scams that parents and students should be aware of before heading off to campus.

First, phishing with a “PH". Phishing scams can happen to anyone, but college students tend to be more vulnerable because they have less experience with credit and debit cards.

This one happened in my own family. The student called in a panic one day because he received a text telling him that there was a problem with his bank account. Without thinking, he clicked on the provided phone number and proceeded to give the call-taker the number off his debit card. Only when she asked for his Social Security number did he start to think something was not quite right. He hung up, and after a few panicked moments, he looked up the number online and called the bank directly. The bank, of course, immediately canceled his debit card—the only card in his wallet— leaving him in the lurch until his new card could arrive.

Another big scam hitting college kids these days involves law enforcement impersonation. We have seen cases where students received calls or texts purporting to be from the FBI or other law enforcement agencies. The fraudster makes a threat of some kind—the student didn't pay taxes or has an unresolved speeding ticket. The FBI or police are going to come arrest her if she doesn't pay the fine immediately. One simple wire transfer, though, and the problem goes away without anyone—including the parents—being any the wiser.

College students are adults, but they are often new adults with less experience in spotting the scammers. Parents, give them a head start with a quick life lesson before sending them off to the dorm.

If you or your child 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.