Beware of Online E-Textbook Scams

Because textbooks and e-textbooks are so expensive, students sometimes resort to buying books online, whether it be a well-known website – such as Amazon or CHEGG – or a website that’s selling cheap textbooks. If it’s a website that is not that known, then it may be safer to purchase from it while utilizing services like temp email.

MacKenzie Case, a sophomore majoring in criminal justice, said that she tries to not purchase books from the campus store because they are “overpriced.”

But not all websites are created equal.

According to an unscientific survey, students like Case said that they spend between $200 and $300 on book purchases from the bookstore, so they resort to buying them online. And some students tend to purchase books at the cheapest price they can find online, ignoring the potential risks behind those websites.

Some websites include,, and While the websites may be legitimate, the books may not, according to the executive director of networking, infrastructure and cloud services Greg Bartholomew.

“What we don’t know is the legality of the books available, which may be an issue per book,” said Bartholomew.

After consulting, Bartholomew and Vincent Mangiacapra, associate vice president and CIO of the office of information technology, said that the website with the highest risk score is Because it seems like a “fairly new site,” said Bartholomew, “there’s not a lot of information on it.”

Mangiacapra encourages students to double-check textbook websites.

“Because sites can pop up at any time if they are not using an established site, [students] should search on them for known fraud complaints,” said Mangiacapra.

“The risks are numerous,” said Louis Franco, office manager of the office of information technology, “They include credit card theft, to in severe cases identity theft if enough information is given. Students also are at risk going to sites that will inject a Trojan virus and possibly collect personal information.”

According to Norton’s website, “Trojan is a type of malicious code or software that looks legitimate but can take control of your computer…a Trojan is designed to damage, disrupt, steal, or in general, inflict some other harmful action on your data or network.”

Franco agreed that students are at risk of getting scammed if they’re not careful.

“Hopefully, today’s student is technically savvy and cautious,” Franco said, “However if they decide to venture out to save a couple of bucks, they put themselves at great risk since it is very easy to build a credible-looking website.”

If students come across a website they see is deceptive and is scamming students, Franco, Magiacapra, and Bartholomew encourage them to email the websites to student technical support at [email protected].