3 Types of Online Scams and Tips to Avoid Them

By Abbey Tiderman 12.08.2014 blog

The explosive growth of the Internet over the past few decades has enabled us to be more connected to friends and family, to gain access to educational resources and classrooms across the globe and to be entertained with a wide variety of games, music and movies. Along with the benefits of our digital lives, however, there are a few serious risks that can have long-lasting negative impact on one’s financial future.

Every day scammers and hackers scour the Internet for opportunities to trick teens out of their money and identities. A 2011 Norton Online Family Study found that 63 percent of teens have responded to an online scam and 77 percent have downloaded a virus. Additionally, according to the Federal Trade Commission, in 2014 about 24 percent of persons under 29 complained about being victims of identity theft.

As a student, it can be tough to know what is and isn’t legitimate, and sometimes even more challenging to guard information in an information-overload society. There’s certainly no need to panic about these stats, but it is important to get the facts straight to protect yourself online.

We’ve listed below three common types of online scams, tips on how to avoid them and resources on what to do if you encounter them:

Scholarships, Financial Aid and Loan Scams

The Internet is rampant with offers of “professional help” promising to complete your FAFSA in minutes, claims of special access to the scholarshipsmost money and best scholarships available and promises to provide instant student loans regardless of credit status. Often these leave students in unreasonable amounts of debt. So, as a general rule, avoid engaging in independent financial aid and loan offers.

The go-to place to apply for and manage your financial aid is the Federal Student Aid Office of the US Department of Education. It is designed specifically to help you and your family navigate the process of paying for college. Any questions you have can be answered right there or by contacting them via phone at 1-800-4-FED-AID. You can also reach out to your guidance counselor at school or the college you’ve been accepted to for additional assistance.

False Job Opportunities

Many students work so they can shop, have fun with friends and save for college. But any job listing that promises high pay, requires no experience or asks for money upfront for training fees or uniform costs is a scam. Walk away.

General rule: If an employment opportunity sounds too good to be true, it very likely is.

When considering applying for a job, run the opportunity by your parents, a school career counselor or mentor for extra assurance.

Identity Theft

Data is valuable. It’s so valuable that hackers are going to great lengths to steal customer information from big box stores and wherever else they can find it online. Names, phone numbers, mailing and email addresses and social security numbers all provide hacker4pieces to an identity fraud puzzle that criminals can then use to take out massive loans, open credit cards and run up bills.

The tricky part is that it can happen without you realizing it because their bank account balance is typically left untouched. Then, when it comes time to apply for a first credit card or to buy a first car, you may find that your credit has been destroyed.

To avoid this, after turning 18, get in the habit of checking your credit report annually, and do not share your personal information (social security number, bank or credit card information or your FAFSA pinwith anyone! Even friends! Be cautious about entering other personal details online as well, such as your phone number, address and birth date.

In addition, emails and texts students receive may “phish” for personal information. These messages bait students into clicking on a link or replying to something with an enticing offer. That’s enough for the hacker to install malware that can scan or take over devices securityand provide access to sensitive materials.

General rule: Avoid clicking on links that are too good to be true or alarmist.

It’s also important to avoid replying or calling back in response to texts from unknown numbers, no matter how intriguing. Students should add their phone numbers to the government do not call list and report suspicious emails to spam@uce.gov.

Other types of fraud include fake awards and contests that require entry fees, offers to purchase diplomas and popular products for sale at extremely low prices. When in doubt, reach out to the fraud Inspector General hotline at 1-800-MIS-USED (1-800-647-8733), or contact the Federal Trade Commission at 1-877-FTC-HELP.

For more online student financial fraud safety tips and information, check your state’s website, or visit the National Cyber Security Alliance at www.StaySafeOnline.org.


  1. Raymond


  2. assassinpirate13

    i did not know that

  3. ben

    wow did not know that

  4. Jman240

    This is very useful

  5. ar3654@k12.sd.us

    Thanks Channel one. It means a lot that you care about us

  6. hello

    i think the tips would come in handy,so dont like get kidnapped from another kid.

  7. carlieorzech 21

    Thanks for the information

    • ben


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