Identity Theft & Scams

Identity Theft and Scams

If you are reading this, you’re a possible target for Internet scams. Just by having an email address, you are a target. It really is that simple.

College students are victimized by identity theft more than any other age group.

Types of theft include:

  • Hackers gaining access to personal information from databases
  • Phishing e-mails or pop-ups which persuade users to disclose personal information
  • Cases in which personal information was sold to illegitimate organizations.

People can protect their identity by limiting the amount of personal information they disclose and being aware of various scams.

Listed below are brief descriptions of a few popular scams. To learn more on these scams and how to protect yourself, follow the links to the Federal Trade Commission webpages


eBay and other online auction sites have dominated the way consumers buy goods. Since the majority of internet scams are from online sales gone bad it is even more important to know what auctions to be wary of. A few clues to look for when detecting an online scam include:

  • Low prices with high-end merchandise
  • Negative feedback or spotty selling history
  • Seller asking for funds in a foreign currency
  • Contact information that cannot be verified


WINNING NOTIFICATION! Your subject line says you’ve won, but you haven’t. Lottery scams are not very different from Nigerian money scams. The difference is that the emails notifies readers that they have won a large amount of money, or lottery. An advance fee is requested from the reader, but no money will ever be given.


Most everyone who has an email box has received one of these. The basic concept is that someone from a foreign country sends a letter to the user’s inbox which promises the readers a large amount of money if they help the sender get the money out of their country. The sender requests and advance fee before giving the reader the larger payment for help. This is the scam. The advance fee will not be returned, and no large amount of money will be given.


Phishing (pronounced “fishing”) is a process by which someone tries to obtain your private information using deceptive means, usually by sending an email that appears to come from a business, bank, school, or other organization you trust. The email may include a link that takes you to a counterfeit web site that very closely resembles a trusted web site where they ask for your password, social security number, account number, driver’s license number or other personal information that can be used to steal your identity. Another method is to lure you to reply to a fake email with your private information.