If there is one thing all students hate, it’s getting a phone call from an unknown number.
The situation gets worse, however, when the person on the other end starts asking for money.
Ferris Director of Public Safety (DPS) Bruce Borkovich claims that college students are the most vulnerable to these phone scams, especially during tax season.
“So I just kind of wanted to refresh the campus community—this is really the time of year when you start seeing the scams that are out there and some of them can be particularly targeted at students,” Borkovich said.
According to Borkovich, there are two common types of phone scams this type of year that come from fake IRS agents or government officials. IRS phone scams will typically target students by claiming that they owe back taxes and then threatening them with the loss of financial aid or scholarships. Government scams will usually claim that there is a warrant out for the students arrest and that if they do not pay bond money, they will go to jail.
“If authorities think you owe them money and they are seeking that money, they generally don’t do it over a phone call. There’ll be official correspondence where you can prove and track who someone is and show that it was legitimate,” Borkovich said. “The problem is, in some cases, the scammers have figured out from a technological standpoint a way to use the phone number and make it show up from the IRS, from the FBI or from a particular police department.”
Borkovich advises that students should never give out personal information, such as Social Security numbers or bank account numbers, over the phone unless they are certain of who is calling.
“Another very sad thing that really angers me is that sometimes our international students are targeted and they are threatened with deportation,” Borkovich said.
So what should students do if they receive a scam phone call or email?
“The bottom line is I want to give people these simple, simple ways of dealing with this, without getting too complicated,” Borkovich said. “For one, if a phone call or email or something doesn’t feel right, it’s probably not right—hang up, delete the email. Any threat that someone makes over the phone is generally bogus.”
Borkovich also advised students to let an unknown number go to voicemail because scammers do not generally leave voicemails.
While no scams have been reported on campus since Jan. 1, two local businesses have already fallen victim to scammers, according to Borkovich who has been in contact with local police agencies.
Students who receive a phone call or email that may be a scam are welcome to report it, even if DPS can’t generally take direct action on it.
“It’s still a good idea to report because reporting it helps us to stay on top of it and helps us to communicate back that, ‘Hey, here’s a new thing that’s going on, we want you to be aware of it,’” Borkovich said.
DPS can also check the legitimacy of the phone call or email for students, so they don’t have to wonder whether it was real or not.
“You’re not risking anything by calling and checking, but remember that trigger is if there’s a threat or if they’re asking for money, it’s probably a scam,” Borkovich said.
Students can contact dispatch for non-emergencies by calling (231) 591-5000 or emailing dispatch@ ferris.edu.
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