Scams Targeting College Students

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College students can be easy targets for scam artists and identity thieves. With new surroundings and different people on campus, it’s difficult to know who to trust.

Recent BBB research shows 69 percent of scam victims are under the age of 45 and young adults of the millennial generation are now more likely to fall victim to a scam than baby boomers. Knowing the most common scams directed at students can help educate young adults to identify and ultimately avoid falling victim to the tricks of con artists.

College students and their families can also be proactive in fighting fraud with this advice from your Better Business Bureau:

  • Verify the identity of a sender before downloading attachments or clicking on links in emails or text messages, even if they appear to be urgent, to avoid Phishing Scams.
  • Steer clear of Employment Scams by researching job offers sent to your school email account or posted on school message boards promising flexible hours with excellent pay.
  • Always check for website security (https) when entering contact details or financial information. Verify business contact information when shopping online or risk potentially falling for an Online Purchase Scam.
  • If you’re asked to pay for a product or service with a prepaid money card, a wire transfer or with a gift card, you should verify the person or company through which the request was made. These types of payment requests are common with Roommate/Rental ScamsSocial Media Scams and other online transactions.
  • Be aware of Identity Thieves who may target teens and young adults. Checking a student’s credit report once per year can help verify the student is safe from identity theft. Thanks to a new federal law in the U.S., free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts will be available starting September 21, 2018, through the three credit reporting agencies.
  • Lock up materials with sensitive information, like student IDs, SSN and account numbers, to protect yourself from identity theft. Remember that it’s not always a stranger looking to steal your personal financial information. Someone you know can also gain access to your personal information in dorms or other common spaces.
  • Never allow someone else, even someone you think is a friend, access to your financial accounts.
  • Avoid using your campus mailbox to send or receive sensitive mail.


If you would like to report a scam, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. To find trustworthy businesses, visit


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