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Prevent This Common Email Fraud
College students: Be aware you are one of the most popular targets for email fraud. In a recent report released by the RSA Anti-Fraud Command Center, a national information security group, a growing trend was found in phishing and online fraud. Fraudsters have increasingly been targeting online portals or webmail services of American universities and colleges.
These attacks are focused on stealing the login credentials that students use to access their personal information and email. Since so much data is stored within students' accounts, fraudsters can reap large rewards.
Here are just a few reasons why fraudsters target these systems:
- To steal personal and financial information from a student's online profile. This information can be used for a wide range of fraud. For instance, stolen information can be used to apply for financial aid or bogus student loans using the victim's information.
- To distribute spam from students' email addresses to their personal contacts. Compared with other unsolicited email content, spam emails gain credibility when coming from peers, especially if messages are sent from a university webmail address. In addition, users are more likely to open emails and click on links inside them if they believe a friend recommended them or found them funny or entertaining.
- To distribute phishing scams. These can include phishing emails disguised as online banking sites in hopes of gaining access to students' bank accounts, or emails that redirect students to websites where they would be infected with a Trojan virus.
Prevent these types of email fraud:
- Ignore unsolicited email that asks you to submit your personal information, even if it looks like it comes from a friend or contact.
- Never use forms that are embedded in the body of an email (even if the form appears legitimate).
- Never use links embedded in an email. Because phishing scams use deceptive links, it is safer to use bookmarks or type in the website address (URL) to reach the site that you want to visit.
- Validate that you are connected to an encrypted website by ensuring https:// appears at the beginning of the URL. Also, validate the authenticity of the SSL certificate by double-clicking the "lock" icon at the bottom of your browser to view the certificate.
- Keep your Internet browser and operating system up-to-date with the latest security patches and updates.
- Use anti-virus software and ensure that it is updated regularly.
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