Scams and Online Fraud

Scam artists in the U.S. and around the world attempt to defraud millions of people each year, including members of the S&T community. Some of the most common fraud attempts reported by our students, faculty and staff occur online or over the phone. By familiarizing yourself with common methods of fraud, and reporting these attempts to the proper authorities, you can help to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

When to Suspect Fraud

  • You won something you never entered a drawing for
  • A transaction to you requires a payment to collect it
  • An offer requires you to 'act now' without doing research
  • You are asked to provide personal information to a business, organization or group with whom you did not initiate contact or is not widely recognized as requiring such information
  • You are contacted for personal or financial information from an email address registered with a free provider (e.g. @yahoo.com, @hotmail.com) instead of a business email address
  • You cannot find significant results about a business, organization or group from a basic Google search
  • You get an unexpected call or email from a company requesting verification of personal information
  • You receive a phone solicitation from someone unwilling to send you written information about their offer
  • You receive an email stating that you must update your login credentials (username, password, etc.) with a link

Tips to Avoid Fraud

  • Know who you're doing business with

    If you did not initiate contact with a business, organization, group, or individual, stop and research them before proceeding.

  • Do not assume contact information is truthful

    A scammer can easily pretend to represent a legitimate company. If an unsolicited caller requests personal information that you feel may be a legitimate request, defer providing information and call back using a number you trust. If an email wants you to verify personal information or update a password, visit the official website and perform the action rather than clicking the link in the email.

  • Protect your personal information

    Don't provide personal information in response an unsolicited phone call or email, in a popup, or on a website you've been linked to. Never provide or verify your Social Security number, credit card number, bank information, mother's maiden name, etc. unless you initiated the contact.

  • Familiarize yourself with common scamming techniques

    The FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center maintains a list of scamming techniques and preventative measures you can take to stay safe.

Reporting Fraud

If you believe you've been the victim of internet fraud or cyber crime, report it. You can file a complaint with the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

If you believe you have received a suspicious request targeting S&T students, faculty or staff, report it to the university police. If the request was received via email, also notify IT Security.