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FTC warns college students of scams relating to coronavirus checks

FTC warns college students of scams relating to coronavirus checks
© Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning college students about coronavirus-related phishing scams in which the scammers are pretending to have information about their direct payments from the IRS.

"Maybe you or your friends have gotten an email claiming to be from the 'Financial Department' of your university. The email tells you to click on a link to get a message about your COVID-19 economic stimulus check — and it needs to be opened through a portal link requiring your university login," Ari Lazarus, a consumer education specialist at the FTC said in a blog post on the agency's website. "Don’t do it." 

"It’s a phishing scam," Lazarus added. "If you click to 'log in,' you could be giving your user name, password, or other personal information to scammers, while possibly downloading malware onto your device."

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The FTC said students who spot emails that look like they are phishing scams can report them to the Anti-Phishing Working Group — which includes internet service providers, security vendors, financial institutions and law enforcement agencies — at reportphishing@apwg.org as well as to the FTC at ftc.gov/complaint.

The FTC's message comes as federal agencies and lawmakers have been concerned about scams relating to the direct payments provided under the $2.2 trillion coronavirus relief law President TrumpDonald John TrumpAppeals court OKs White House diverting military funding to border wall construction Pentagon: Tentative meeting between spy agencies, Biden transition set for early next week Conservative policy director calls Section 230 repeal an 'existential threat' for tech MORE signed in late March.

College students ages 17 and older who were claimed as dependents on their parents' 2019 tax returns are not eligible to receive an advance payment. However, they may be able to get a credit when they file their 2020 returns next year if they file separately from their parents then.