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 North Dakota's College SAVE Plan -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.
  • Vary answers to security questions. Use caution when you select your North Dakota's College SAVE Plan 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.
  • Log off and close your browser. North Dakota's College SAVE Plan 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 North Dakota's College SAVE Plan 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.
  • 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 North Dakota's College SAVE Plan'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, North Dakota's College SAVE Plan 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 866-728-3529 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,

Quick Links

Ascensus Broker Dealer Services is the distributor of the North Dakota College SAVE plan, Learn more about Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, LLC on FINRA's BrokerCheck.

For more information about North Dakota's College SAVE Plan (College SAVE), call 1-866-SAVE-529 (1-866-728-3529) or click here to obtain a Plan Disclosure Statement. Investment objectives, risks, charges, expenses, and other important information are included in the Plan Disclosure Statement; read and consider it carefully before investing. Ascensus Broker Dealer Services, LLC (ABD) is Distributor of the College Save.

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.

College SAVE is a 529 plan established by the State of North Dakota. Bank of North Dakota (Bank) acts as trustee of College SAVE Trust, a North Dakota Trust, and is responsible for administering College SAVE Trust and College SAVE. ABD, the Plan Manager, and its affiliates, have overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of the Plan, including recordkeeping and marketing. The Vanguard Group, Inc. (Vanguard) provides underlying investments for the Plan. The College SAVE's Portfolios, although they invest in mutual funds, are not mutual funds. Units of the Portfolios are municipal securities and the value of units will vary with market conditions.

Investment returns are not guaranteed and you could lose money by investing in College SAVE. Participants assume all investment risks, including the potential for loss of principal, as well as responsibility for any federal and state consequences.

Not FDIC Insured. No Bank, State or Federal Guarantee. May Lose Value.

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