Young Adults and the Cyber Perils of the New COVID Norm

2020 has been one wild ride, and as Generation Z you have been hit particularly hard by the social, economic, and mental health impact of the coronavirus pandemic. 

Graduation? Cancelled. Your exciting summer trip? Not happening. Moving out of your parent’s house? Sorry, nope. 

On the bright side, you grew up in a world full of technological advances and innovations, which means you are no stranger to using the internet for school, work and your social life. However, with stay-at-home orders and social distancing protocols in place, scammers know you are online now more than ever and are lurking in the shadows to gain access to your sensitive information and wreak havoc on your personal and financial life. 

Keep your eyes peeled for these three common scams affecting young adults so you can easily respond and report if one of these scams happens to you.

Hacked Video Conferences

Imagine you’re on a video call with your professor and classmates. You’re watching the clock for the lecture to end, and all of a sudden an unexpected guest joins and starts disrupting your video call with threatening language, pornography, and/or hate images. Not only is this embarrassing and uncomfortable for everyone involved, this behavior may violate state and federal criminal law.

If you experience a hacked video conference, follow these immediate action steps: 

  • First, take a screenshot of the disruptive behavior, then shut down the video conferencing software immediately. 
  • Second, report the behavior. Visit FraudSupport.org to find out where to report. 
  • Third, review your security settings on the video conferencing software. Check out these Best Practices for Video Conferencing Security from Palo Alto Networks. 

For more immediate action steps and recovery resources, watch our Hacked Video Conference video on YouTube, and visit our Hacked Video Conference resource page.

Scholarship Scams 

Scammers know that with the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic and the skyrocketing costs of tuition, school supplies, and room and board, you are looking for ways to help finance your education. Scammers will pose as companies that promise scholarships, grants or huge financial aid packages. These “companies” might ask you to pay an upfront fee in order to receive your scholarship money or to access an exclusive list of scholarship sources. After you pay the upfront fee, the scammer is nowhere to be found.

If you paid money or provided sensitive information and later realized it was a scam, don’t panic! Follow these immediate action steps:

  • First, if you shared any financial information, contact your bank or financial institution to close or change any compromised accounts.
  • Second, report the scam. Visit FraudSupport.org to find out where to report. 
  • Third, visit AnnualCreditReport.com for a free copy of your credit report and to check for any suspicious activity.  

For more reporting and recovery resources, visit our Scholarship Scams resource page.

Job Opportunity Scams

Finding a job or internship during the coronavirus pandemic is no easy feat, and scammers know this. Scammers will post fake job listings on real sites or reach out to you pretending to be job recruiters. These fake recruiters might ask you to pay for help finding a job, insist you purchase certifications or training materials, or ask for your debit/credit card number for security purposes before you can be considered for an opportunity. 

Job searches are stressful and may cause you to overlook certain red flags. If you sent money or provided personal/financial information, and then later realized it was a scam, don’t worry! Follow these immediate action steps:

  • First, if you shared your debit or credit card number, contact your provider right away to dispute any suspicious charges and change or close compromised accounts.
  • Second, report the scam. Visit FraudSupport.org to find out where to report. 
  • Third, notify the job listing site where the job was posted.

For more reporting and recovery resources, visit our Job Opportunity Scams resource page.

Remember, cybercrime and online fraud can happen to anyone, so don’t feel embarrassed if one of these scams happens to you. Subscribe to our YouTube channel, follow us on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, and share these resources with your friends so they can keep an eye out for common scams affecting Gen Z.