In recent years, online education has become a very popular pursuit for students young and old wishing to gain a degree in higher education. With so much of our lives already taking place online, it is a fairly natural extension at this point to move education and learning to the web. Online education is a wonderful option for students with families to care for, jobs to maintain, or difficult schedules to work around. With the convenience of an online learning environment comes the added danger of online privacy. There are numerous scams out there online that are geared toward those seeking online learning or online scholarships. While these malicious entities are no doubt dangerous, they are certainly no reason to distrust or discredit online education. Before completing any forms in your online college application process, educate yourself on these three types of malicious web scams associated with online learning.
With thousands of legitimate scholarships available, college students have numerous ways to save money in their pursuit of higher education. However, this means that they also have numerous ways to fall victim to malicious web scams. With so many legitimate scholarships offered it can be difficult to know where to get started in your scholarship application process. Before providing any personal information on any sort of online form, you should educate yourself on how to avoid scholarship scams. The most dangerous type of scholarship scam involves a malicious entity creating an entirely false scholarship offer. This phony scholarship is created to obtain personal information from vulnerable students that will, in turn, be utilized to steal their identity or (less threateningly) to obtain information for marketing purposes. Before applying for a scholarship online, research that specific scholarship. If the application requires some sort of fee, that should draw some red flags for you. Carefully evaluate the scholarships you are applying for to be sure that they are legitimate and a decent fit for your educational needs.
Student Identity Theft
Identity theft is by far the largest category of college scams on the web. Because of the impersonal nature of online education and the application process, online learning is targeted fairly often by online scammers. Malicious entities will create false pages that mimic legitimate online university sites and will use that false form to steal your sensitive personal information. Those seeking an online degree should carefully educate themselves on the accreditation process for online colleges and universities on the web. Some scammers will go through the trouble of actually creating an entirely false university just to steal your money or information. If a school is not accredited by an official accrediting agency, you should go through several steps to ensure its legitimacy. Look through that school’s contact information and if you can call them to inquire about their school and accrediting status. If they do not provide contact information, contact the U.S. Department of Education and inquire about the school there.
Student Loan Scams
In today’s turbulent economic atmosphere, more and more students are finding it necessary to take out a loan to attend or complete their education. Student loans are a great (and terrifying) way to get the money you need to pay for tuition and other learning expenses. However, (because it’s the internet) there are malicious entities online that will try to obtain your personal information through phony loan offers and applications. The primary source for legitimate educational loans is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (or FASFA). This service is free (as indicated in the name). Some scammers will attempt to charge you for financial aid applications. Avoiding loan scams are done in much the same way one avoids phony scholarships. Be wary of any online forms you are asked to fill out and educate yourself fully on the loans you are seeking.
This is a guest post from Jacelyn Thomas. Jacelyn writes about identity theft protection for IdentityTheft.net. She can be reached at Jacelyn.thomas @ gmail.com.