Around this time last year, the COVID-19 pandemic had intensive in-person classes, normal occupancy of campus housing, and many other routines of life on BU campuses. But one thing that even the pandemic couldn’t kill are online scams, often aimed at international students.
According to a BU today exhibit last fall, at least 22 scams were reported last August, and they defrauded BU students of nearly $ 300,000. This year, as the pandemic subsides, the BU Police Department expects greater and bolder efforts from the crooks.
Robert Molloy, deputy chief of the BUPD, saw one of these deceptions two weeks ago, when a trusted BU student placed an ad in the “Apartments Wanted” section of Craigslist and quickly received a promising response, accompanied by an apartment address. The deal would be guaranteed, the student was told, as soon as $ 3,200 was deposited into a designated bank account. As you might expect, says Molloy, the “tenant” disappeared as soon as the money was sent.
“We hear of many similar scams around this time every year,” says Molloy. “Students looking for an apartment should think twice before sending money to someone they don’t know. We recommend that students use only established and known local rental management companies.
And it’s not just rental scams that students need to watch out for. BUPD Detective Lieutenant Kelley O’Connell saw a variety of downsides. Some involve phone calls from foreign crooks advising students that their passports have been fraudulently investigated and asking for credentials, as well as funds to be sent to various accounts. Others, she says, offer fake checks to job postings advertised through the BU’s Career and Placement Center, and the cases studied show that reporting parties were often contacted through email addresses from the BU compromised.. Other scams involve fraudulent dating apps that persuade students to send compromising photos of themselves, she says, and then blackmail them for money with threats to make the photos public.
The good news, says O’Connell, is that more and more students are reporting fraud attempts to the police. She advises anyone suspected of being the victim of a scam to call the BUPD at 617-353-2121. She also suggests that students familiarize themselves with BU’s Phish Bowl, a great source of information for preventing cyber scams, and carefully review the fraud prevention tips from the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement. Administrators.
These tips include the following:
Do not offer to deposit a check into your account if an unknown person asks you to. The person can pretend they don’t have an account themselves and tell a bloody story about how they need help cashing a check. It is important to remember that you are financially responsible for all items deposited into your account. Do not provide your login details to anyone. If you do, they can deposit stolen or counterfeit checks into your account. The bank will hold you financially responsible.
Don’t assume an email or phone call is genuine. Just because someone knows your basic information (such as your name, date of birth, and address) doesn’t mean the email or phone call is legitimate. Criminals will use a range of social engineering techniques to obtain your personally identifiable information. Never give your social security number.
Know who you are paying, via person-to-person payments i.e. Zelle, Venmo, etc. Only pay and receive money with people you know. Do not pay foreigners with P2P (person to person). Most person-to-person transactions are instantaneous and irreversible.
Don’t pay for merchandise online or over the phone with a debit card. Debit cards are vulnerable because they are linked to a bank account. You have a much better chance of resolving a fraudulent transaction when paying with a credit card rather than a debit card. Additionally, do not provide your debit / credit card numbers over the phone, email, or websites unless you initiate the call or order.
Do not use an ATM if you notice any wires or a skimmer attached to where you insert your card. Also, cover the keyboard with your hand, hat or other clothing when entering ID numbers. Notify the bank or local police if you observe one or more devices connected to the ATM you are using.
Do not make a debit card purchase without first checking the account balance. Most financial institutions allow the transaction to be processed even if you don’t have enough funds to cover the costs. This will result in unnecessary penalties and fees.
Get your free credit report at annualcreditreport.com. Each year, you can receive a free credit report from each of the three credit reporting agencies (TransUnion, Equifax, or Experian). Upon receipt, check for unauthorized accounts, inquiries and unknown addresses.
If you think you have been scammed, contact the BUPD at 617-353-2121.
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