During the transition from high school to college, many students and parents are faced with tuition payments, financial aid, and scholarship applications, and often have to purchase a new laptop or tablet. These are all things that could lead to being scammed if you are not careful.
According to the BBB Institute for Marketplace Trust, consumers ages 18 to 24 are three times more likely than seniors to fall victim to a scam. According to 2018’s BBB’s ScamTracker Risk Report, 41.6% of students reported a loss when exposed to a scam as compared to 28.3% of non-students.
With college students being the primary target for scams, Better Business Bureau (BBB) has some useful tips and warnings for college students and their families.
- Fake Credit Card Offers- Students are often bombarded with credit card offers that promise gift cards and "free money" to qualifying applicants who are approved. On top of the fact that this could potentially stir up a credit problem, some of the deals could be a completely fake gimmick to gain access to student’s personal information. Do your research on those credit card flyers, emails, promotions and mailers before applying.
- Roommate and Rental Scams- To save money many students opt for off-campus housing and begin searching online for the most convenient and cheapest option. Always be wary of online postings that boast extremely cheap rent and high-quality amenities. Google image search the property photos to make sure the same apartment isn't posted on hundreds of other sites. Also, beware of "fake roommates" who are out of the country, but can provide rent up front with a money order. This also applies to Craigslist listings of other students looking for roommates.
- Employment Scams- In 2018, employment scams were the #1 culprit for scams attacking 18-25-year-old consumers. Job offerings can be sent directly to school emails, promising flexible hours and a beyond expected pay. There is no need to send a social security number via email without knowing exactly who you are sending it to or without even having a formal job interview. For more types of employment scams, visit BBB Tip: Employment Scams.
- Scholarship and Grant Scams- Phone calls from companies guaranteeing they can help reduce loan payments or set you up with a hefty grant are worth researching. Even searching the company online could bring up scam alerts from other victims. Contact the school’s financial aid office for advice on the company’s legitimacy or how they can help otherwise. Scholarship scams can affect college students even after graduation; read our tips on scholarship scams.
Be proactive to prevent fraud in the future!
- Check Your Credit Report- After the age of 18, it’s a good idea to start becoming more aware of your credit score and start adapting some healthy money habits. It’s also a helpful signifier of any unusual activity and possible ID fraud. While there are multiple traps online trying to snag your social security number with a fake credit score, safely check your credit score at AnnualCreditReport.com.
- Awareness of Current Scams- As tech-savvy as current college students can be, a surprising number of scams reported to BBB’s ScamTracker are from students who learned their lesson too late. Use BBB’s ScamTracker to learn of the latest scam trends and read local reports of specific incidents.
You can read more about credit card scams here.