Guard against online fraud and scams

Con artists have devised clever ways to trick people into revealing personal information online, including schemes known as "phishing" and "pharming." Precautions taken by IDeal - Idaho's College Savings Program -and you- can help keep your information secure.

Here's what you need to do

As you conduct business online, taking a few simple precautions can go a long way toward protecting your personal information.

  • Verify website security. Make sure the website has the proper encryption by first verifying that the Web address (URL) begins with https://. Then mouse-over the padlock image (depending on your browser) in your Web browser window to show the security. You can also double-click the image to get additional information on SSL security. On be sure to look for your security image before logging on.
  • Install a reliable computer security program. Protect your computer with a tested reliable anti-spyware, antivirus program. If you operate a wireless network through your computer protect yourself by installing one of these programs.
  • Vary answers to security questions. Use caution when you select your IDeal - Idaho's College Savings Program security questions and answers, as some information about you is readily available. An alternative is to answer the security questions with unique responses or code words. If you choose this option, make sure you'll remember your answers.
  • Protect your login information. Select passwords that combine letters and numbers, create anagrams that you can remember, and change your login and password from time to time to further protect yourself.
  • Log off and close your browser. IDeal - Idaho's College Savings Program recommends that after accessing your account information online, you click Log off or Log Out at the top of the page and close your Web browser. Some of your account information can stay in your browser's memory until the browser is closed.
  • Open all IDeal - Idaho's College Savings Program communications in a timely manner. We provide confirmations either through U.S. mail or e-mail depending on your preference. Watch for these confirmations and if you have any questions about a confirmation statement, contact us immediately.
  • Privacy. Idaho law requires that personal information including the social security numbers, addresses and telephone numbers of an Account Owner or Beneficiary in IDeal be treated as confidential. We recognize our obligation to keep information about you secure and confidential. To read the IDeal Program's Privacy Policy, click here.
  • Take caution when using public computers. Be cautious when using public computers (especially when traveling abroad and those found at libraries, Internet cafés, and schools), or using shared ones, such as home computers. You don't know what may be installed on these computers. Public computers are traditionally on open networks and can be susceptible to monitoring without your knowledge.
  • Use wireless technology safely. If you have a wireless network at home, make sure to follow manufacturer's guidelines to secure your network. If you're not sure how, contact the manufacturer for assistance. And don't check your accounts over a public wireless Internet connection.
  • Update your software. Older computers are harder to protect. PCs running Windows 95/98 operating systems don't receive security software updates and have difficulty operating newer software, therefore increasing their vulnerability to hackers.
  • Review your credit report. Review your credit report every four to six months for unauthorized activity. Go to to receive your free credit report or call 877-322-8228. You can also contact any of the following credit reporting agencies.


Phishing attacks seek to gather personal information, such as Social Security numbers, online User Name and passwords, to access victims' accounts. A phishing attack often appears as an unsolicited, but authentic looking, e-mail that may threaten to close your account unless you verify some information. Although the links in the message may look like your financial institution's website address, they point to a fake website that gathers the information you enter. Criminals then use that information to steal a person's identity.

Phishing e-mails typically include typos and other mistakes, terms the company may not use, or e-mail addresses that look different than ones the company uses.


Pharming is another type of online attack where website names (such as are changed to point to an attacker's numeric Internet address (the "IP address") instead of IDeal - Idaho's College Savings Program's legitimate IP address. Successful pharming attacks are less common than they were a few years ago; however, it's possible for an attack to be temporarily successful against poorly protected servers.

To guard against pharming, IDeal - Idaho's College Savings Program webpages that display your account information, or allow you to make changes, use Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) technology. SSL webpages start with "https://" instead of "http://." One of the advantages of SSL is that your Web browser verifies the identity of the server. If an attacker successfully changed a website name so that a secure address brought you to an attacker's site that looked like, your browser would display a warning. The warning would say the name on the certificate does not match the name of the site. If you encounter a similar message, don't access the page. Immediately contact 866-433-2533 for assistance.

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL)

SSL is a protocol developed for transmitting private documents via the Internet. SSL uses a cryptographic system that uses two keys to encrypt data. A public key, which is known to everyone, and a private or secret key, known only to the recipient of the message. URLs that require an SSL connection start with "https://" instead of "http://."

Test Your Anti-Phishing Knowledge

Here is a link where you can test your knowledge on common Phishing and Pharming attacks,

Important Legal Information

By clicking on one of the social media icons, you are leaving the IDeal website, maintained by Ascensus, and are being redirected to a social media site solely maintained by the State College Savings Program Board (“Board”). Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, LLC, the program manager for IDeal, does not monitor or endorse the Board's social media activities. All IDeal social media activities are the sole responsibility of the Board.

Mr. Thiros is a registered representative of Ascensus Broker Dealer Services LLC, 877-529-2980, 95 Wells Ave, Newton MA (member FINRA/SIPC) and is not employed by the State of Idaho.

For more information about IDeal - Idaho College Savings Program ("IDeal"), call 866-433-2533  click here to obtain a Disclosure Statement. The Disclosure Statement discusses investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information. Because investing in IDeal is an important decision for you and your family, you should read and consider the Disclosure Statement carefully before investing.

Please Note: Before you invest, consider whether your or the beneficiary’s home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds, and protection from creditors that are only available for investments in that state’s qualified tuition program. You should also consult your financial, tax, or other advisor to learn more about how state-based benefits (or any limitations) would apply to your specific circumstances. You also may wish to contact directly your home state’s 529 college savings plan(s), or any other 529 plan, to learn more about those plans’ features, benefits, and limitations. Keep in mind that state-based benefits should be one of many appropriately weighted factors to be considered when making an investment decision.

IDeal is administered by the State College Savings Program Board ("Board"). ABD, the program manager, and its affiliates, have overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations, including investment advisory, recordkeeping and administrative services, and marketing. The Vanguard Group, Inc. ("Vanguard") serves as Investment Manager for IDeal. Sallie Mae Bank serves as the Savings Portfolio Manager for IDeal. IDeal's Portfolios invest in either: (i) mutual funds and a separate account offered or managed by Vanguard; or (ii) an FDIC-insured omnibus savings account held in trust by the Board at Sallie Mae Bank. Except for the Savings Portfolio, investments in IDeal are not insured by the FDIC. Units of the Portfolios are municipal securities and the value of units will vary with market conditions.

Investment returns will vary depending upon the performance of the Portfolios you choose. Except to the extent of FDIC insurance available for the Savings Portfolio, you could lose all or a portion of your money by investing in IDeal, depending on market conditions. Account Owners assume all investment risks as well as responsibility for any federal and state tax consequences.

Not FDIC-Insured (except for the Savings Portfolio). No Bank, State or Federal Guarantee. May lose value.