A monthly Information Security publication for the WPI community.

This month's focus is on TAX SCAMS and FINANCIAL AID. Our thanks to Jessica Sabourin for partnering with us to bring you the latest FAFSA and financial aid security info. And since we are publishing on February 14, we've added some Valentine specials!

In this issue:

  • Tax Scams
  • Financial Aid 
  • Learning with Laughter
  • Meet Jessica Sabourin!
  • Valentine Specials for Your Devices, Zoom Meetings, & Romance Scams
  • Featured Videos
  • Financial Aid and Tax Scam News & Statistics
  • Diversity in Cybersecurity
  • Coming Next Month...

Tax Scams

Here are a handful of scams to watch out for during tax season; with additional details in the links below. If you  come across one, report it using the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Report Phishing and Online Scams website.

  • Educational Institutions:  IRS-impersonators target .edu email addresses.  With the IRS logo and a subject line about the recipient's refund, this phishing email asks people to click a link and provide sensitive information.
  • Unclaimed Refunds: Using postal mail and IRS letterhead, this letter says it's about an unclaimed refund, but lists a phony IRS phone number.
  • False W-2 Form: Circulated on social media, this scheme encouraged people using tax software to manually enter false income and withholding numbers in their W-2. The goal is to receive an exorbitant refund from the IRS.
Tax Scams & Consumer Alerts (IRS)Report Phishing and Online Scams (IRS)Avoid IRS Scams (NerdWallet)

Financial Aid

Using the official Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) is a secure way to apply for funds and share necessary tax information.

What’s New in the 2024–25 FAFSA?

- Expanded eligibility

- Streamlined user experience; many applicants can answer fewer questions, some as few as 18!

- Together the U. S. Department of Education (ED) and IRS have developed the FUTURE Act Data Direct Exchange (FA-DDX), simplifying steps to complete the FAFSA.

What is the IRS Direct Data Exchange?

This tool allows you to consent for the exchange of tax information into your FAFSA, which enables FAFSA to retrieve income and tax data directly from the IRS. FAFSA applicants and contributors who indicate that they have filed their federal tax returns prior to completing their FAFSA may use the DDX process to complete their FAFSA.

Some families will not be able to use DDX if:

- Parents of a dependent student file separate tax returns

- Applicant’s parent changes marital status after the end of the tax year on Dec. 31

- Applicant or applicant’s parents filed a foreign tax return

Protect Your Identity When Applying for Aid

Reduce identity theft risk with these precautions:

  • Apply for federal and state aid using the FAFSA at the official website
  • After completing the FAFSA form online, exit the application and close the browser; any cookies created during your session will be deleted automatically.
  • Don't tell anyone your FSA ID username or password, even a person helping you fill out the FAFSA form.
  • Review your financial aid offers and keep track of the amounts you applied for and received. 
  • Never give personal information over the phone or internet unless you made the contact. If you have questions about an offer of aid or about your student loan account, ask your college or contact the Federal Student Aid Information Center.
StudentAid.govOnline FAFSA FormFederal Student Aid Login PageFederal Student Aid Information Center2024–25 FAFSA® Form Launch
Kermit the Frog looking at Evil Kermit. Evil Kermit text: "I'm telling FAFSA how much you spend on Fortnite."

FAFSA & Financial Aid Scams

Navigating the FAFSA and financial aid can seem daunting. Tricksters take advantage of this by offering their services for a fee, but you DO NOT have to pay for help to: 

  • Find money for college or Career School
  • Submit the FAFSA form
  • Apply for federal student loans

These links explain types of scams, note where you can find free assistance navigating the FAFSA and financial aid opportunities, and identify legitimate companies the ED works with. The WPI Financial Aid team provides free guidance to enrolled WPI students.

WPI Financial AidAvoiding Student Aid Scams (studentaid.gov)How to Avoid Financial Aid Scams (Big Future)Avoid Scholarship and Financial Aid Scams (FTC.gov)

Student Loan Repayment Safety

Here are some tips about student loan repayment:

  • You DO NOT have to pay for help with your federal student loans.
  • Only work with loan servicers approved by the ED, listed on studentaid.gov.
  • Do not work with organizations that say you must act immediately to receive help with your loans.
  • Avoid working with anyone who makes promises that sound too good to be true, such as all your loan debt will be forgiven for a small fee. Most government loan forgiveness programs require years of payment or employment in a specific field before they're forgiven.
  • Do not tell anyone your FSA ID, even if they are helping you with your student loans.
  • Look for signs of phishing if you receive any unexpected communications about your student loans. Some phishing signs are typos in the email or sent from an email address that is similar to the legitimate one, but not exact. How to Avoid Student Loan Forgiveness Scams lists true email, text information and loan servicers used by ED.
Loan Servicers for the U.S. Department of Education (ED)How to Avoid Student Loan Forgiveness Scams (studentaid.gov)Consumers Harmed by Student Loan Debt Relief Scam (FTC.gov)

Learning with Laughter

Will Ferrell dressed as Buddy the Elf. Text says, "Us to scammers: You sit on a throne of lies."

Meet Jessica Sabourin!

Jessica is smiling against a gray background.

Jessica Sabourin, Executive Director of Financial Aid,  joined WPI in July 2019. 

She has over 15 years of higher education experience and leadership in various areas including enrollment, advancement, finance, and student accounts.

When not at work, Jessica enjoys spending time with her family, running, reading, traveling, and the beach.

Jessica's WPI Profile

Show Your Devices Some Love!

February is known for romance, but don't forget that your favorite devices need some special attention too. 

Computer TLC (WPI Hub)

Let Zoom Meeting Invitees Know You Care

Protecting your Zoom meeting with security settings keeps "Zoombombers" out and prevents negative and offensive disruptions for your attendees. Taking this single extra step provides a better meeting experience, while protecting our community and resources shared in Zoom.

Zoom Meeting Security

Before You Say, "Be My Valentine"...

Unfortunately, fraudsters are out there to take advantage of your quest to find love online. In 2022, Massachusetts residents lost over $9.3 million to confidence and romance scams.

What to Know about Romance Scams (FTC)Romance Scammers Favorite Lies Exposed (FTC)

Featured Videos

Learn more about avoiding financial aid and loan forgiveness scams from these short videos.

Play It Safe: Protect Yourself From Student Loan Scams (01:15)Tops Three 3 Scams to Avoid in 2023 by CBS in Memphis, TN (3:00)Scammers Use Student Loan Forgiveness to Steal Info by ABC in Chicago (03:27)

Financial Aid and Tax Scams in the News

CNBC says the top 5 scams to watch for in 2024 are: grandparent, romance, cryptocurrency, employment, and online tax schemes.

Financial Scams to Watch in 2024 (CNBC)

A reminder from Spectrum 1 News that you do not have to pay for scholarships. If payment is requested, then it's fraudulent.

Students Tricked into Scholarship Scam (Spectrum 1 News, Charlotte, NC)

By the Numbers

Most recently available student loan statistics from 2022:

- Student borrowers in the U.S. owed $1.76 trillion to lenders.  

- Americans lost $5 billion to student loan fraud in 2022, which was 0.28% of the total student loan debt.

- Borrowers received 700 million robocalls about student loans every month.

Student Loans 2023: 3 Scams Borrowers Need To Be Aware Of (Yahoo Finance)

Diversity in Cybersecurity

Mary N. Chaney, Chairwoman, CEO, and President of Minorities in Cybersecurity

Mary is smiling, wearing a light purple, sleeveless dress with a park background.
Mary N. Chaney

Coming Next Month...

Careers in Cybersecurity 


Is there a cybersecurity topic that you would like to know more about? Please contact WPI Information Security using Get Support below.