PNP-ACG safety tips to students

WHILE Philippine National Police chief, Director General Oscar D. Albayalde has ordered increased police presence in schools and universities and their surrounding areas as regular classes resumed in Metro Manila and other parts of the country this week, the PNP Anti-Cybercrime Group (PNP-ACG) has offered tips to students to prevent them from being victimized by criminals using modern technology.

Gen. Albayalde said he wants at least two policemen to guard each school in Metro Manila and the rest of the country and ordered his regional directors to raise their alert level depending on the prevailing peace and order condition in their areas. An estimated 29 million students are expected to return to their classrooms this month.

The PNP-ACG now headed by Brigadier General Dennis P. Agustin released the following ‘common students’ scams’ that would educate the youths, their parents, teachers and the rest of the general public.

“We hope that our students would be fully aware of the following scams so that they can immediately call the nearest police station or our office in case they meet one,” said Agustin.

The official enumerated the ‘common students’ scams’ as the following:

1.None-existent apartments —Never agree to rent an apartment without seeing it first - both inside and outside - and meeting with the landlord, he said. This scam is simple: Offer a great apartment, collect rent or a deposit over the phone for a place you don’t own, and then disappear.

The PNP-ACG’s tips: Never send money to someone you’ve never met. Most importantly, always meet in person and in the company of your parents or guardians.

2. Internet merchandise scams —You purchase something online, but it is either never delivered or it is not what they claimed it was, or is defective. Online shopping, and other mail and phone shopping scams are on the rise. The PNP-ACG’s counter-tips:  Always shop on secure and reputable websites;      Read all terms and conditions; Be wary of offers that are “too good to be true.”

3.Facebook fake friend scam— Did you ever get a Friend Request on Facebook from someone you already thought was your Friend?  The official  said there are fake profiles of scammers posing as attractive men and women to catch somebody’s attention. If you hit Accept, you may have just friended a scammer. Con artist nurtures an online relationship, builds trust, and convinces victim. then do a cover story claiming they need money to help in an emergency, he said.

The unit’s tips:  Call the person or ask some information to counter check his real identity ; Do not rely on pictures and information provided in social media.

4. Modeling scam—Agustin said these syndicates target college students by messaging them on Social media, claiming that they need models for their brochures and print ads. “They will message you saying that you have a potential to be a model. The crook spoofs IDs to make it look like he/she is coming from a legitimate modelling company or sometimes create a fake social media account pretending to be one of the known personalities in the fashion world,” he explained.

The fraudster then will offer his target to have a daring photoshoot in exchange for a high talent fee and exposure, but later use to blackmail the victim.

The PNP-ACG’s tips: Never transact to the person that you do not know. Do not ever give private photos or video to anyone. Always double-check the legitimacy of the company by calling or visiting it personally. Always check whether an offer is genuine, even those passed on from people you know. Contact the relevant agency using contact details you get from official website or independent online search.

5. The tuition fee and scholarship scam—Agustin  said that the fraudster calls or emails a student, claiming to be from the college admissions’ department. Sometimes the fraudster spoofs IDs to make it look like he’s coming from a...

...legitimate organization. The scammer will then offer a discounted tuition fee if they will give an advance payment or will ask for a processing fee for scholarship. After giving the money, the fraudster will disappear.

To counter such scam, the PNP-ACG advises students and their parents to hang up immediately on such calls and contact the college’s admissions department directly to verify such offer.

Agustin said the public should be alert always for unsolicited offers. While some offers may be legitimate, sometimes they are scams and can be very difficult to identify. It’s always best to check independently every time, he said.

6.  Fake credit cards Students often feel flattered and “grown up” when they’re offered deals to score their first credit card. But some offers are fake, aimed at getting naïve students to hand over personal information or lure them to sites that have malware or add malicious software to the student’s computer.

The PNP-ACG’s tips follow: Always check out a credit card offer and website before clicking a link or handing over any personal information.  Call to counter check whether the company is legitimate or not.

Always consider your privacy by limiting your information

7. Watch the wi-fi. College students, more than anyone, spend mountains of time online via Wi-Fi at coffee shops, malls and parks, Agustin said. He explained that hackers and thieves prey on them by setting up an alternative Wi-Fi site - often dubbed a “man in the middle” site - that looks similar to the main site but is actually a scammer trying to get students to connect to their site where they steal a personal information.

The PNP-ACG’s tips: if you use a public wi-fi network, avoid touching any Personally Identifiable Information (PII) including banking information and other sensitive data. Lastly, use Virtual Private Network (VPN) as it shields your browsing activity from the prying eyes of the pubic on public wi-fi and more.