Elliott Greenblott | AARP Fraud Watch: Students, alumni should beware 'directory scam'


Another scam that targets college students and school alumni might be called the "directory scam."

In this ploy, the contact is made on behalf of an alumni association or school with the alleged purpose of creating or updating a school directory.

The focus here is not necessarily on fraudulent fundraising; rather it is a phishing expedition to obtain and then sell or use your personal information.

Protection from becoming a victim is again relatively easy. Before providing any information, contact the group that is sponsoring the directory — school, alumni association, organization – to determine if the call is legitimate.

Ask what rights the directory company has regarding the use of your information and request a written copy of the agreed policy statement.

Finally, be judicious in terms of what information you provide to the directory. Membership or alumni directories often provide members with a forum to display life events and personal information. Do not supply data that you would not want made public as these documents are not secure. In fact, they provide con artists with a vast array of personal information for profiling.

Finally, the start of the school year often signals a greater use of social media by people of all ages. Students reconnect with friends, parents and grandparents update family members on activities, personal connections are strengthened.

Autumn is also a good time to remind everyone that information shared in social media like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, has the habit of becoming public knowledge and enriches the individual profiles created by scammers. Be careful in what you post and consider creating and using an email address list for sharing "news" in order to be more protective.

As always, remember that everything you say or do on the internet is being recorded by someone or something.

Elliott Greenblott is a coordinator for the AARP Fraud Watch Network and writes this biweekly column. If you suspect that you may be a victim of a computer-based scam, call the AARP Fraud Watch Network hotline at 877-908-3360 or the Massachusetts Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division at (617) 727-8400.


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