How Can I Tell If An Email Or Website Is A Scam/Fraud?

Students should be aware of the myriad of Internet scams that exist as well as the techniques used to protect themselves against any new scams. The most prevalent scams include Internet auction fraud (non-payment or non-delivery), phishing (phony website to retrieve personal information), Nigerian letter scams (won the lottery or came into inheritance), and unsolicited bulk email (pharmaceuticals, designer clothes, etc.). Here are some details on a few of them:

  • Phishing Scam: "phishers" send bogus emails or pop-up ads pretending to be a legitimate business such as your bank, Internet service provider, or governmental organization. They ask you to "confirm" your personal account information by going to a website that looks like a company´s real website.

  • The Nebraska Crime Commission warns citizens against the Jury Duty Scam. A scammer calls acting as a court employee and tells you that you failed to report for jury duty. When you say that you never received the notice of an obligation to be on a jury, the scammer will ask you to "verify" your identity by giving your social security number or other private information.

  • The Nebraska Department of Banking and Finance cautions citizens about emails advertising "payday cash lenders" who claim to offer overnight cash advances for your paycheck in order to get you to reveal your personal information.

  • Nigerian Scam Letters: These letters claim to offer you an opportunity to enter into a "confidential business arrangement" that will result in millions of dollars going into your bank account – provided you reveal your personal information to the company.

To protect yourself, do not rely on links within email messages. Be wary if an email requests personal information such as your social security number or credit card number. Always make sure the website and/or email actually belongs to the company it says it does. If something seems suspicious to you, do not provide any payment or information until you are certain it is a trustworthy source. Please use the following linked resources to educate yourself on Internet scams: