Fake Applicants Getting .EDU Email Addresses Are Disrupting Colleges and Universities

One of the rising problems facing colleges and universities is the rise of bots, scammers and other individuals inundating admissions applications solely for the purpose of obtaining a .edu email address.   

Who is Being Targeted?

The biggest target in the realm of the perpetrators are the U.S. community colleges and smaller colleges due to their sometimes automated and streamlined admissions approach from the on-line application directly to the Student Information System.  Part of the automated enrollment process is the issuance of a .edu email address and unfortunately, it’s typically not until later in the college’s process that it realizes that something is amiss with the applicant’s information.  By the time that realization has occurred many college administrators have wasted their time, resources and energy preparing for a student that doesn’t exist.  Ultimately, this is causing many problems due to the already stretched resources at most colleges and resulting in erroneous admissions numbers.


Why Is This Happening?

Why would anyone want to go through the level of effort to scam a college or university for the issuance of a .edu email address to begin with?  In our research the biggest reason is to take advantage of the numerous discounts, services and free subscriptions made available by merchants such as Amazon, Microsoft, GitHub, or Netflix that are aimed at college students.  One would think that it would be difficult to create an alias to pass through all of the required criteria asked on an admissions application due to the scrutiny of asking very particular pieces of information such as:


  • First name and last name
  • Address
  • Email address
  • Telephone number
  • Birthdate 
  • Social Security Number (SSN)
  • Gender
  • Racial or ethnic identification


How is This Happening?

With the specific contact information being asked in the admissions process the challenge is being overcome by the perpetrators using “how to” blogs, articles and even videos to achieve their means of providing fake information.  There are services and even paid providers to give an individual fake contact information to apply with that further enhances a scammer’s ability to be successful.  


There are thousands of colleges and universities currently struggling with the issue of fake applicants and are looking for a simple solution to mitigate this problem.  


The Solution

As an enterprise data quality company serving a very large customer base in Higher Education for over 20 years, Runner EDQ has been on the front lines mitigating data quality issues.  By cross referencing an applicant’s contact validity and using their address as the foundation for everything, the rest of an applicant’s information including their social security number is able to be vetted providing a solution to a complicated problem.  To learn more about Runner EDQ’s available solution to combat the .edu problem please contact us.