State Attorney General Aaron Ford advises Nevada’s youth and parents to be aware of online scams targeting minors.
Just like adults, scammers target young people through popular online platforms, such as apps, games and popular social networking websites.
Youth are particularly attractive targets for scammers because they often have unused Social Security numbers, do not generally check their credit reports and are used to readily sharing information online. Scammers may pose as someone else in order to get young online users to voluntarily share information.
“Scammers don’t discriminate,” Ford said in a statement. “All users, even young adults, should be cautious about sharing their personal information. If we can help young people recognize these issues now, they can be proactive and protect their personal information, which may be their most valuable asset. The first step is to realize how much of your personal information is already in the public domain.”
In its news release, the attorney general’s office identified some scams:
■ Inexpensive/free stuff scam: Many ads online offer cheap or free items for sale, such as clothes, sunglasses or handbags. In some cases, these ads prove to be a scam.
An unsuspecting young adult may send money but never receive the item or may receive an item of lesser quality. The fake sale may also be an attempt to get personal information, such as user names and passwords, which would allow the scammer to gain access to the youth’s account.
Before purchasing items online, do research to ensure that the source is legitimate. Scammers often re-post a discount offer that was previously valid but will no longer be accepted by the retailer.
Use a search engine to look at customer reviews; however, be aware that sometimes websites post fake reviews to attract more customers.
Trust your instincts if you feel that something seems wrong about the deal. Consider only purchasing from established online retailers.
■ Scholarship scams: Some social media accounts may promise to provide a scholarship, but are actually an attempt to steal your money or your identity.
Typically, these scams may promise to give scholarships to a certain number of new followers in return for a fee or personal information, such as a Social Security number, bank account information or a credit card number.
Legitimate scholarships do not charge any fees. Avoid sharing your Social Security number, password or any financial information with someone offering a scholarship. None of this information is needed to verify your identity or to “hold” a scholarship.
■ Account deletion scam: Scammers may use messaging services on social media platforms to directly contact account holders and claim their account may be deleted or locked if they do not click on a link to update their account.
This link may appear legitimate, but when users click it, they are redirected to a website asking for the user’s information, such as passwords, email or physical addresses, or other personally-identifying information.
Beware of messages that ask you to click on a link to update your information. If you think you need to update your account, do so through the settings on the online app or website.
“If you believe you have fallen victim to any of these scams, you are encouraged to file a complaint with the Office of the Nevada Attorney General or with the Federal Trade Commission,” Ford’s office said.