By Brycelynn Green
Students, staff and faculty of Dixie State University are rapidly evolving and advancing. Unfortunately, so are the people reffered to as scammers.
Scammers use misleading personas and approaches to extort personal information and money from anyone who has some to offer. While sometimes they are obvious, other times people may not realize they have been scammed until it is too late.
In some cases, there may be ways to get back the money lost. Unfortunately, other cases may go undetected and severe cases of fraud can eventually lead to identity theft or loss of an entire life’s savings.
Scammers target specific groups of people by appealing to their needs and vulnerabilities. This puts certain people at a higher risk of getting scammed, such as the elderly and college students.
College students are targeted because they are constantly looking for ways to pay for recurring expenses such as tuition, books and student housing.
By becoming aware of some of the common methods used by scammers and familiarizing themselves with the key indicators of fraud, students can protect themselves from high risk situations.
Since many college students use a part-time or full-time job to support themselves, scammers use this need to come up with hoaxes that appeal to this specific financial need.
These scams are disguised as job and career opportunities with promising wages and flexible hours. They are seeking to acquire a student’s personal information or money.
Scammers also use a very similar approach through the solicitation of scholarships.
Elizabeth Aguirre, a junior biology major from St. George, said just earlier this week she encountered a scam while on campus. She was looking at one of the many boards around campus that display flyers about upcoming events, job opportunities, classes and more. While looking at the board one of the flyers stuck out to her for a few reasons, and not in a good way.
“I knew it was a scam because they didn’t specify what their project was, it was not approved for posting, and the overall design was shady,” Aguirre said.
Although sometimes students like Aguirre can spot red flags like a missing stamp of approval from the university, other times it’s not so simple.
A resource for safe job, internship and scholarship opportunities is the Dixie State Career Center, located in the Jeffrey R. Holland Centennial Commons Building.
Job and internship listings are posted daily and are easily accessible to students through Handshake, a website the career center partnered with in early July. Shane Blocker, the assistant director of employer relations and internships, said one of the main factors in the career center’s decision to partner with Handshake was “the security measures put in place for identifying fraudulent employers.”
Blocker explained several students have come to the career center unsure of whether a job opportunity is legitimate or not, and seek guidance on if they should move forward with the application process. Some students have received advanced checks from employers before ever beginning employment with the company. Blocker has directed those students to not cash the check or give out any personal information.
“If it sounds too great, just avoid it,” Blocker said.
Scams take place at a variety of levels and locations, and the campus bookstore is of no exception.
“There is a nationwide scam that has affected many college bookstores,” textbook manager Claudia West said. “We have to scrutinize every order which comes in and we try to identify the possible fraud orders.”
Students should use safe, verified campus resources for things like job opportunities and textbooks to reduce their risk of encountering a scam. However, the most useful approach students can take to avoid scams is to be aware of the indicators and always be skeptical in moving forward.