Better Business Bureau Releases Scam Alert: 6 Scams for College Students to Avoid

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BOSTON- According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB)’s most recent Scam Tracker Risk Report, scammers are taking the new school year’s season as an opportunity to try to steal money through various schemes and scams aimed at college students. During this time of the year, college students are having to spend money on tuition payments and school supplies as they begin a new semester. Adults ages 18-24 reported the highest median losses ($150) and many of the scams took place online.

With many colleges considering their COVID-19 policies for school years, scammers will still take advantage of the situation using tactics that have worked in the past. One tactic that has been used to get students’ personal information is a phishing email that claims to be from the school’s “Financial Department.” The email claims to have information about an economic stimulus check or may ask for personal identification to verify that the student has received a COVID-19 vaccination. Or, if the student hasn’t received one yet, may offer locations on where to get one. Messages via text or email may appear to instructing to click on a link provided in the email and log in with a student username and password. Don’t do it; by doing so, it could provide the user name, password, or other personal information to scammers, while possibly downloading malware onto the device.

Whether you are a student starting school away from home or have young students who may be vulnerable to such scams, the BBB recommends watching out for these financial scams before heading into the new semester.

  • Fake credit cards – Offers to apply for the first credit card are tempting to many students. Not only could this create credit problems down the road due to unchecked spending, some of the deals could be phony offers designed to get access to personal information. Research the offers from the credit card flyers as well as the banking institutions before applying.
  • Too-good-to-be-true apartments  It’s hard to not jump on a convenient apartment so close to campus, especially if it advertises affordable rent. It’s tempting to hand over credit card information online to lock in a great spot, but it’s always worth seeing the apartment in person prior to a money transfer. This also applies to Craigslist ads of other students looking for roommates.
  • Safe credit reports   It’s a good idea to start practicing some healthy money habits as early as the age of 18. One such habit is regularly checking your credit report for unusual activity and possible ID fraud. The official government website to do this for free is annualcreditreport.com.
  • Scholarship and grant scams  Be wary of phone calls from companies guaranteeing they can help reduce loan payments or offer a hefty grant. Searching the company’s name online could bring up scam alerts or negative reviews from other consumers. Students can read reviews and complaints about the company at BBB.org and contact the school’s financial aid office for advice and help regarding financing your education. Scholarship scams can affect college students even after graduation, according to the BBB.
  • Online shopping scams  Online purchase scams were the #1 culprit for scams in 2020 attacking 18-25 year olds especially through social media platforms and apps.
  • 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.

If you come into contact with a potential scam, contact the area’s local BBB if you are unsure of it and report scams to BBB Scam Tracker.

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