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Honor Society Foundation Scam: Protect Yourself From Imposters

You may think you're being invited to an honor society, but you could be the target of a nationwide scam aimed at students.


Verified.org
Updated 9 February 2022
Honor Society Foundation Scam: Protect Yourself From Imposters

Phishing Statistics 2021


90% of data breaches are caused by phishing
3.4 billion phishing emails are sent every day

1.4 million phishing websites are created every month

Source: Digital InTheRound, 2021

Sections on this page
  1. What are Honor Society Foundation Scam Emails?
  2. How to Beat Honors Society Foundation Scams
  3. Red Flags of Honor Society Foundation Scams
  4. Genuine Honor Society Foundation Emails
  5. Fallen for this Scam?
  6. Frequently Asked Questions

Honor Societies have a long history of recognizing student academic achievement and supporting students by providing scholarship, networking, and service opportunities. For many students, being offered a place at a prestigious Honor Society is an important recognition of their hard work and success.

The Honor Society Foundation is a legitimate organization that has been targeted by scammers who use their brand to send hopeful students emails with fake membership offers. They try to trick them into paying membership fees and sharing their personal details. This article looks at red flags you should look out for if you receive an email from an Honor Society and show you how to beat the scammers.

Honor Society Foundation vs. the National Honor Society 

The Honor Society Foundation is not the same as the National Honor Society. The National Honor Society (NHS) is generally the more trusted organization, with some saying the Honor Society Foundation copies the NHS brand to attract members.

What are Honor Society Foundation Scam Emails?

You receive an email that appears to be from the Honor Society Foundation. The information typically included in an invitation to join Honor Society Foundation email is:

  • Your full name
  • A statement of membership fees to pay to join
  • A description of the selection criteria
  • An explanation of the benefits for members, including networking, leadership, and scholarship opportunities
  • A link that you are directed to click on to sign up

As exciting as these opportunities might sound, these emails can be scams designed to trick you into clicking on links that install malware on your computer or phone, steal money and your personal details. Here's a step-by-step guide on how this scam works.

1. You Receive an Email From the "Honor Society Foundation"

Example Fake Honor Society Foundation Email

Congratulations! You are invited to join the Honor Society member society. Accepting this distinction connect you with like-minded high achievers from universities across the nation. We help connect you with leaders from high profile universities and employers across the nation. 

Honor Society is the preeminent organization dedicated to recognition of academic and professional services. Our society empowers members to achieve through scholarship, recognition, exclusive privileges, job to date, and builds a framework for future success. 

Activate Your Honour Society Membership

2. You Click on the Link Provided

Clicking on the link will direct you to a fake Honor Society Foundation website. Often these sites are well designed with convincingly similar designs and logos used by the real Honor Society Foundation site.

3. You Enter Your Information

You will be asked to enter your personal and financial details on the fake Honor Society Foundation website. This may include your:

  • Credit card information
  • Billing address
  • Bank account number

4. Your Information is Compromised

Now that you have entered your information into an Honor Society Foundation scam website, scammers have gained access to your sensitive personal and financial information. They can use this information to make fraudulent charges to your credit card or bank accounts and potentially compromise your other online accounts.

How to Beat Honors Society Foundation Scams

Scammers who send Honor Society Foundation scam emails are well aware they're preying on vulnerable high school and college students. Avoid the dangers of Honor Society Foundation scam emails by following these best practices.

Double-Check the Domain Name

If the sender is indeed the Honor Society Foundation, the sender's email address will end in "honorsociety.org." Fake senders might add extra numbers or letters to the correct name or create handles that trick you into believing they're part of the legitimate organization.

TIP: Always Check the Sender's Email Address

The sender might be labeled "Honor Society," but you will be able to determine the actual address by hovering your mouse over the name.

Hover Over Links Before Clicking

Always hover your mouse over the links provided in the email. If, for example, the link invites you to click to join the Honor Society or learn more, make sure the link embedded in the text will take you to an application or sign-up page. If the link appears suspicious, with letters or numbers that don't make sense, don't click it.

Don't Share Sensitive Information

If you are asked by an organization to share personal or financial information via email, always verify that it is a legitimate request. Search for the Honor Society Foundation in your browser, find their contact details, and call them to check.

Never trust the contact details given in the email, never click on a provided link, and don't share any details, even if the request seems reasonable.

Check if You Meet the Membership Criteria

One of the simplest ways to screen offers from honor societies is to check if you meet their membership criteria. This is usually a set GPA benchmark.

It is probably a scam if you get an invitation and know that you don't meet the criteria. This is made a little more challenging with societies like honorsociety.org. Their website details three tiers of membership for academic recognition and one non-academic membership:

  • Highest Honors Members: GPA 3.8 to 4.0
  • High Honors Members: GPA 3.5 to 3.79
  • Honors Members: GPA 3.2 to 3.49
  • Members: No GPA requirements listed

The reason stated on honorsociety.org for non-academic memberships is to provide inclusive opportunities for all people. This opens up the pool for the Honor Society Foundation to send email invitations to any student, which is probably why scammers like to impersonate the organization.

Red Flags of Honor Society Foundation Scams

Scammers are constantly updating their techniques to make their emails look as professional as possible. However, these red flags can tip you off that what seems like an Honor Society Foundation email is a scam.

  • Requests for Sensitive Information: Scam emails may ask you to provide sensitive information and provide a link or attachment for you to do so. The message may pressure you to give this information, so you don't risk losing access to your account.
  • Poor Grammar and Spelling: Fake Honor Society Foundation scam emails may not include the polished professional prose you'd expect from a scholarly organization. Look out for typos and strange, awkward phrasing.
  • Generic Greetings: A classic red flag is an email that doesn't greet you by name. Instead, the email will open with "Dear Sir or Madam" or "Dear Valued Member." An Honor Society inviting you to be a member should know your name.
  • Immediate Redirect to a Different Website: As soon as you open the email, your browser immediately redirects to another website before you even click on any links. If this happens, close your browser and delete the email.
  • Urgent Tone: A tactic often used by scammers is to create a sense of urgency about a problem. For instance, the email might state that your membership is only valid for a short amount of time if there are limited spots available.
  • Strange Domain Names: The email sender will be from an organization that doesn't end in "honorsociety.org." A scammer may have added letters or numbers to the legitimate domain name, which you may overlook if you're reading quickly.
  • Fake Logos and incorrect fonts: The scammer may have tried to replicate the Honor Society Foundation's logo. Open the Honor Society Foundation website in a different browser to compare the two logos and the fonts and look for inconsistencies. Check the contact details to see if the match.
  • Attachments: A typical Honor Society Foundation membership email won't include any attachments. Attachments are a red flag that it could be a phishing scam.

Genuine Honor Society Foundation Emails

Here's what a real Honor Society Foundation email looks like. You'll notice that the email is free of typos and clearly explains its mission and benefits, as well as the featured privileges extended to members. Check the sender and hover over the link to verify it is from the Honor Society Foundation.

To be 100% certain that it is legitimate, call the foundation and verify that the message is real before clicking on any link or sharing any personal details.

Genuine Honors Society email
Source: Reddit

Fallen for this Scam?

If you've fallen for an Honor Society Foundation scam email, it's essential to act quickly to protect your identity and financial information.

Contact Your Financial Institution and Credit Card Company

If you've entered any sensitive financial information, contact your bank or credit card company to let them know that a scammer may have access to your account. You may need to cancel your cards and request new ones.

Get in Touch with the Honor Society Foundation

The Honor Society Foundation is aware of the dangers of impostor honor society emails. The organization can help determine whether an email you received is real or fake. You can contact them online

Alert your education institution

Let the IT department know if the email came via an education institution email address. They can try to block the messages getting to other students or send out warning messages alerting students to be careful.

Report the Honor Society Foundation Scams to the Authorities

You can also report phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC works to build public awareness of similar scams to prevent other people from becoming victims. The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) also handles Internet-related scam complaints.

Update Your Passwords

If you shared any of the passwords you regularly use with a scammer, change those passwords now. Try to use different passwords for each of your accounts, and use a password manager if you have trouble remembering them.

Watch for Suspicious Activity

Over the next few weeks or months, monitor your online accounts for signs of suspicious activity. It's also a good idea to check your credit report regularly to ensure that a scammer hasn't caused any damage to your credit. 

Is the Honor Society Foundation A Scam?

There is much discussion online about the deceptive nature of honor societies, such as the Honor Society Foundation. Much of this commentary questions the recruiting tactics used via mass email and the value that you get out of a paid membership. The Honor Society Foundation is a legitimate, non-profit 501(c)(3). They state on their website that they aim to foster members' professional development while providing leadership and volunteer opportunities and scholarships to the highest-achieving members. It currently holds an "A" rating from the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

If you receive an email inviting you to the Honor Society Foundation, it may well be an actual invitation. Just make sure the email does not include any red flags covered above. Contact the Honor Society Foundation to verify the email's legitimacy if in doubt. Then, if you're interested in joining, research the benefits and fees and make your own determination on whether it's worth the investment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are honor societies scams?

There are legitimate honor societies that connect you with scholarships, colleges, and other professional development opportunities. There is some confusion with the use of the term "scam" and honor societies. Some people question wether honor societies are scams because they don't see the value for money in the membership. Then, there are the actual scammers that steal your money and personal information by setting up fake websites and sending letters impersonating honor societies. The best advice is to do your research and engage with societies that have a college chapter that you can verify.  Be very careful if you receive an unsolicited email or letter offering you a membership, it could be a scam.

Do Honor Societies charge membership fees?

Most Honor Societies require some type of one time upfront fee. This might be for a lifetime membership or there may be annual fees charged in addition to keep your membership. Here is a sample of some of fees* for some of the bigger US Societies:

  • Honor Society Foundation honorssociety.org - 6 months membership fee US$65, US$130 annually
  • National Society of High School Scholars nshss.org - lifetime membership US$75
  • Golden Key Honor Society goldenkey.org - lifetime membership fee US$95
  • Phi Beta Kappa pbk.org - one time national membership fee US$65 plus local chapter fees
  • Phi Kappa Phi phikappaphi.org - annual national membership fee US$65 plus US$35 annual renewal (additional chapter fees may apply)
  • National Society of Collegiate Scholars nscs.org - lifetime membership fee US$97

*fee information was sourced from the websites listed as of 10th February 2022. Only starting or base level fees are included, other fees may apply including higher membership fees that offer different benefits. 

How can I tell if a Honor Society is legitimate?

In the U.S., most honor societies are official 501c3 non-profit organizations and members of at least one of the following associations:

The ACHS has over 70 member organisations all of which are non-profit. They set rigorous standards that member honor societies must meet, so they are a good starting point to check legitimacy. They provide a list of their member organisations on their website. The National Honor Society Foundation does not appear to be a member of the the ACHS.

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