As students worldwide gear up for the impending back-to-school season, Kaspersky's team of cybersecurity experts have uncovered an alarming increase in fraudulent activities. Preying on the frenzy surrounding academic preparations and purchases, cybercriminals launch sophisticated phishing campaigns targeting students, educators, and administrators alike.
One of the scamming tactics employed by fraudsters is the creation of fake giveaways promising students a chance to win a laptop. To be eligible for this seemingly attractive prize, victims are instructed to provide personal information and indicate their preferred laptop model. In another version of this scam, individuals are prompted to share a specific link leading to a page with a prize-draw with 15 contacts through WhatsApp. Subsequently, they are required to engage in the draw by registering via SMS. The allure of winning a laptop or another valuable item is the bait, but there is a catch: winners are informed that they must cover the delivery costs for their supposed prizes. This demand for additional payment serves as a distinct indicator of a fraudulent scheme.
The prospect of winning a laptop or other valuable item acts as the enticement. However, besides the offer being too good to be true, a clear sign this is a scam is that the supposed winners are informed they need to pay delivery costs for their alleged prizes. This request for additional payment is a telltale sign of a fraudulent operation.
Quoting Olga Svistunova, security expert at Kaspersky, "As the academic season looms and millions of students purchase books, make tuition payments, and acquire school supplies, there is a traditional surge in cyberthreats. Scammers profit from this period, leveraging students' enthusiasm to procure new devices for their studies. The allure of a free laptop proves an effective blinder to associated dangers, leaving individuals at a heightened risk of being ensnared by these scams."
Another fraudulent form of deception revolves around fake scholarships. Scammers exploit students' hope for financial aid, luring them into fraudulent scholarship schemes. Here's how it works: victims are enticed by seemingly genuine scholarship offers that promise financial assistance. In order to take advantage of this aid, students are asked to provide personal information, including sensitive data like Social Security numbers and bank details. This information is later used for identity theft and financial fraud.
"Fake scholarship scams can severely impact unsuspecting students, leading to not only financial losses but also long-term identity theft. It's crucial for students to remain vigilant and cautious when interacting with unfamiliar scholarship offers," comments Olga Svistunova.
To stay safe against education fraud, Kaspersky experts also recommend:
- Stay Skeptical: Exercise caution when encountering “too good to be true” offers, especially if they require payments or personal information upfront.
- Verify the Source: Thoroughly research any scholarships, giveaways, or offers that come your way. Look for official contact details and confirm legitimacy before taking any action.
- Secure Your Information: Avoid sharing sensitive data online unless you're absolutely certain about the legitimacy of the request.
- Use Trusted Sources: Stick to official school websites, recognized scholarship platforms, and reputable retailers when making payments or providing personal information.
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Activate MFA wherever possible, adding an extra layer of security to your online accounts. Use a reliable Password manager that doesn’t just store your passwords but also generates one-time passwords for 2FA automatically.
- Use a reliable security solution for comprehensive protection from a wide range of threats, such as Kaspersky Premium.
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