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Possible phone scam hits campus

March 25, 2008

KALAMAZOO--Several Western Michigan University students have reported receiving suspicious phone calls that reference an employment position to which they never applied. Students say red flags went up when the caller reached them at an undisclosed number, didn't release a company name, and used a callback number that was shortly disconnected.

Concerned that the call might be linked to an employment scam or attempt at identity theft, Deputy Police Chief Blaine Kalafut of the WMU Department of Public Safety reminds all students to exercise common sense and carefully guard their personal information.

"Many scam artists are out of state and very difficult to track, so if anyone calls asking for any type of personal information or you receive a questionable e-mail, hang up or delete the e-mail," Kalafut says. "Do not provide them with any information."

It's estimated that as many as 12 million Americans fall victim to identity theft each year. Avoid being a victim by knowing how private data can be stolen and by exercising caution when displaying, publishing and releasing personal information.

Avoid being scammed

Never give out your Social Security number, credit card number or other personal information over the phone, by mail or through the Internet unless you initiated the contact, and know and trust the company making the request.

Never send sensitive information by e-mail.

Before revealing personal information, find out how it will be used and if it will be shared.

If asked to provide personal information for the processing of an employment or credit application, research the company to verify its legitimacy. Check the address and telephone number the company has provided and make sure the Web site is operating.

Avoid publishing your phone number, date of birth and address on social networking sites like Bebo, Facebook and MySpace.

Never share bank account numbers, credit card numbers or other financial information.

Watch for indications of a scam, which often include misspellings and bad grammar or use an e-mail address not affiliated with the company's domain.

Use passwords that are not easily guessed on your credit card, bank, utility, phone and e-mail accounts. Change passwords often and never share them with anyone.

Carry only the identification information you need. Keep other documents such as your Social Security card, birth certificate and passport in a safe place.

Guard your mail. Shred documents that contain personal information before throwing them out.

Check your financial statements to ensure all purchases listed are yours.

Request a credit report on a regular basis to make sure there's no evidence of fraud.

Media contact: Tonya Hernandez, (269) 387-8400, tonya.hernandez@wmich.edu

WMU News
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