Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today warns students and their parents on various scams circulating throughout the area and to urges for precautionary measures to be taken again identity theft.
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today warned students and their parents to be cautious of potential scams when applying for scholarships.
The warning is part of a week-long effort by the West Virginia Attorney General’s Office to provide back-to-school-related consumer protection tips and warnings. With the 2014-15 academic year already underway in some counties, and more counties starting school in the next few weeks, the Office decided it was a good time to remind citizens that scams can come in a variety of different ways.
One scam the Office has heard about revolves around fraudulent scholarship websites and offers. Morrisey said in this scam, a person will set up a website that offers to match students with potential scholarships he or she may be eligible for. However, before the student can see the list of scholarships, he or she is asked to either pay an upfront fee or provide personal, private information.
“While there are several reputable websites that provide students with information on how to apply and receive valuable scholarships, some sites exist only to scam applicants,” Morrisey said. “Receiving a scholarship is not only an honor, it also is a great benefit for your future education. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who try to take advantage of hardworking students or their parents.”
When applying for and researching scholarships, here a few tips to follow:
•Avoid scholarship websites that require personal information such as the applicant’s Social Security number.
•Be wary of websites that require users to pay a fee in order to search for and learn about scholarships, or charge a fee to help a student receive a scholarship. Stick to free scholarship search sites and applications.
•Research scholarships before applying. Talk to a guidance counselor, academic advisor, or the group that offers the scholarship before applying to verify that the scholarship offer is legitimate. Determine whether there are any specific terms or conditions that have to be met if you accept the scholarship.
“Our office encourages students to apply for as many scholarships as possible.” Morrisey said “We just want to ensure the students do their research before applying.”
If you believe you have been a victim of a scholarship scam, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or go online to www.ago.wv.gov
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today urged West Virginia high school and college students to be cautious when using services like iTunes and Netflix to download music and movies because of a scam that targets these users.
The specific scam preys on students who spend a lot of time on their computer and phone. The scammers send a letter notifying the student they have been accused of illegally downloading movies or music on the Internet. The letter will appear to be from an Internet service provider or downloading service, and it typically offers to settle the dispute and not pursue the crime if you send a check for a certain amount.
“A lot of young consumers use reputable services like Netflix or iTunes to stream movies or download music onto their electronic devices,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “Scammers are trying to take advantage of these consumers by scaring them into believing they have somehow committed a crime, and strong-arming them into sending a check to avoid trouble.”
Consumers who receive these types of letters should always check the validity of the claim. Research the name of the company that is making the accusations, and if the scammers are using a well-known company or provider, always call that company directly to verify.
“It is critical to do your research before blindly complying when you get a random notice pressuring you to send a check,” Morrisey said.
If you believe you have been the victim of a scam like this one, please call the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or go online to www.ago.wv.gov
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey is warning students who are heading back to the classroom to take the necessary steps to protect their personal, identifiable information from scammers.
Unfortunately, identity theft can cause lasting problems for a victim. Students should always be wary if a website, person online, or salesperson asks for their personal information. Scammers know that the best way to reach new victims is through social media, so be wary of any private messages you receive from people you don’t know, or messages and posts that offer things that sound too good to be true. Additionally, if you live in a dorm or apartment with a commons area, always make sure you secure your private information.
“Protecting your identity and information from scammers is a constant problem,” Attorney General Morrisey. “Fortunately for students and consumers there are some good ways to prevent their information from falling in the wrong hands.”
Students should remember the following tips to protect their identity:
•Shred any and all documents that have your personal information on it.
•Keep your Social Security number safe. Never carry your Social Security card with you and only give out your Social Security number when absolutely necessary.
•Never click on links in unsolicited emails.
•Your computer is an easy way to lose your identity so use firewalls, anti-spyware, and anti-virus software to protect your computer, especially if using public, unrestricted wi-fi.
If you believe you may have been the victim of identity theft, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-368-8808 or visit www.ago.wv.gov
Attorney General Patrick Morrisey today warned students to be careful when responding to unsolicited text messages from unknown telephone numbers.
The scam, which is similar to the “one-ring” scam our Office alerted consumers to earlier this year, targets young adults by misleading them to respond to text messages from an unknown phone number. The text messages may include a link that prompts the consumer to open a web site that asks for personal and financial information, or the message may simply prompt the consumer to call the number listed. By calling the unknown phone number, consumers may receive a hidden fee for placing the call, or they may end up connecting with a person who uses high-pressure tactics to gather their banking information.
“This is another example of a scam that not only targets young adults who are always around their phone, but also targets curious consumers wondering who is contacting them,” Attorney General Morrisey said. “While students are getting adjusted to a new school year, they may think a message they have received is from a new classmate, only to find a scammer on the other end of the line.”
Scammers appear to be targeting numbers at random, and are typically able to reach millions of customers with computer programs that send bulk messages using a few simple keystrokes.
Here are a few things to keep in mind if you receive an unsolicited text message:
•Delete it immediately, especially if the message asks you to reply with a code or with personal information. A legitimate company will never send you a text message or an e-mail to ask you for your credit card numbers, bank account information, or Social Security number.
•Don’t be tempted to click on any links in the text message. These links can take you to spoof sites that can look authentic, but are designed to steal your personal information.
•Review your cell phone bill for any suspicious, unauthorized charges and immediately report them to your carrier.
“Our Office wants students to be able to focus on their education during the start of the school year and not be worried about falling victim to a scam,” Morrisey said.
If you believe you have been the victim of one of a text message scam, contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 1-800-368-8808 or visit the Office online at www.ago.wv.gov.