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Be Safe Online and Offline this Independence Day

Related services: Security & Policy

Happy Fourth of July to the Cornell community!  

As you celebrate with friends and family this weekend, remember to be on the lookout for phishing emails and a variety of different scams that peak around this time of year. Below you will find some common Fourth of July scams and steps you can take to avoid them. 

Patriotic-Themed Messaging Scams 

Around Independence Day, it is common for scammers to use social media, email, and text messaging to target unsuspecting consumers. They often use patriotic messaging to trick people into providing personal information or to click links that download malware. Previous scams have, for example, presented themselves as organizations that benefitted veterans, election campaigns, or claimed to be advocacy groups for other patriotic issues.  

To avoid having your information stolen or falling victim to a scam, it is always important to avoid clicking on unsolicited links in emails and text messaging. In addition, be sure to confirm the authenticity of organizations – and remember that legitimate charity organizations will continue to work all year. 

Online Sales Scams 

With any holiday comes sales from online retailers, which scammers may mimic with fake coupon or sales links. Scammers may also target popular seasonal sales items. For example, there have been reports of scam websites that offered free American flags for people that paid shipping – but they sent no flags upon receipt of payment and promptly cut off all communication. 

To stay clear of online sales scams, people should only shop with trusted retailers and ensure their payment method is secure. Sometimes, an offer really is too good to be true. 

Fireworks Sale Scams 

In places where fireworks are legal, it is best practice to use cash when purchasing fireworks from roadside fireworks stands. Although most fireworks stands are legitimate businesses, there have been instances of payment information being stolen from customers. People running fireworks stands may leave the area soon after the Fourth with your payment information. 

Admission Ticket Scams 

After well over a year of the pandemic, scammers are looking to take advantage of people eager to attend in-person events. Tickets to Independence Day shows, like fireworks celebrations, are fabricated and sold by scammers. They may be designed to resemble local show tickets. 

Always pay attention to the name, location, and date of any ticket you are planning to buy. If you can, buy tickets directly from the venue hosting the event.  

Malware, Virus, and Tech Support Scams 

Again, avoid clicking on any unsolicited links sent by unknown organizations. Malware attacks have been previously reported around the Fourth of July, as well as cases of fake cyberattacks. Such fake cyberattacks claim to lock up users’ computers and try to convince users to contact a fake cybersecurity service to fix the issue.    

Instead, Cornell users who have concerns about a compromised Cornell account or Cornell-managed device should contact the IT Service Desk. 

Stay safe and have a happy holiday! 

This information was adapted from the Identity Theft Resource Center and the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker. For additional information, visit the Identity Theft Resource Center at and the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker at   

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