Campus, News

Seniors report suspicious activity in bank accounts following cap and gown orders

Cap and gown
A cap and gown. Several Boston University students have reported suspicious activity on their credit cards after purchasing a cap and gown for graduation. COURTESY OF LUKE HAYTER VIA FLICKR

Multiple Boston University seniors noticed unauthorized charges on their debit and credit cards this week after ordering from the cap and gown website, Herff Jones. Students had ordered from the supplier through the BU Barnes & Noble bookstore site.

The site reportedly experienced a data breach due to a recent cyberattack.

In a statement released Wednesday on their website, Herff Jones apologized to those impacted by the breach and wrote they have “taken steps to mitigate the potential impact and notified law enforcement.”

“Herff Jones is committed to the privacy and security of its customers and we take this responsibility seriously,” the statement said.

The cyberattack is currently under investigation by a cybersecurity firm, according to the statement, and the company is working to identify and communicate with affected customers. Herff Jones could not be reached for further comment.

More than 160 students responded “Yes, I’ve had a fraudulent purchase on my card” to a poll posted on the Official Boston University Class of 2021 Facebook page on Sunday by a BU senior.

Students complained of unusual activity on their cards, such as large delivery charges and purchased airline tickets. College students from other Universities who ordered from Herff Jones also reported similar suspicious activity on their bank accounts.

BU spokesperson Colin Riley said the University found out about the incident around noon on Monday.

“This was certainly an unfortunate thing to hear,” he said. “There was a cyberattack on the supplier and the workaround is that they’re going to process orders and fulfill orders with ‘Bill Me Later’ to avoid any delays.”

He said students should expect to receive information from the company about the necessary steps to take.

Grayson Wiggins, a senior in the College of Engineering, said three transactions were made on his card totaling $120. All three purchases were made on the delivery app DoorDash, he said.

“I found out about them [Sunday] night actually by seeing the posts on Facebook,” he said. “My friend shared it with me and they actually ended up having fraudulent charges on their account as well.”

Wiggins said he was “frustrated” with the company Herff Jones and promptly took action by locking his bank account.

“What I was just going to plan on doing was claiming those transactions as fraudulent with my bank, and moving on by just getting a new card,” he said.

Elianna Dryer, a senior in the College of Fine Arts, said her card was charged $1200 for two airplane tickets on Qatar Airways. She realized her card had been used without authorization after it was later declined while shopping online.

Dryer said she had assumed she was the only one affected until a friend mentioned in passing recently having to get a new credit card as well.

“I thought it was just me,” Dryer said. “Then I started looking more into it and realized that it was a huge problem that was affecting a lot of seniors.”

She said neither Herff Jones nor BU has reached out to her about how to resolve the issue, though she said she was unsure how to report it because it was a third-party site.

“I haven’t heard anything,” Dryer said. “I didn’t know exactly what had happened. I just thought it was a fluke of some sort and then only recently I realized that it’s a pattern of some sort.”

Herff Jones encouraged customers who experienced unauthorized charges to call customer service at 855-535-1795 between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. from Monday to Friday.

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