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. However, scammers take on this opportunity to sway students who are looking for better ways to manage their money.
According to BBB’s most recent Scam Tracker Risk Report, 41.6% of students reported a loss when exposed to a scam as compared to 28.3% of non-students. Data from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also shows younger people aged 20 to 30 lose money to fraud more often than older consumers.
Even if a college student is not on campus due to COVID-19, scammers know how to find them. 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 tells the student to click on a link to get a message about your COVID-19 economic stimulus check — and it needs to be opened through a portal link requiring your university login. Don’t do it. If you click to “log in,” you could be giving your user name, password, or other personal information to scammers, while possibly downloading malware onto your device.
Whether you’re starting school yourself or have kids who are vulnerable to such scams, BBB suggests students watch out for these financial scams before heading into the new semester.
- Fake Credit Cards – It’s not a secret that deals which appear to be a quick and easy way to spend money are offered to college students to get them to apply for their first credit card. On top of the fact that this could potentially stir up a credit problem, some of the deals could be a fake gimmick to get access to student’s personal information. Do your research on those credit card flyers, emails, promotions and mailers before applying. Read our BBB Tip on credit card scams.
- 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 listings of other students looking for roommates.
- Safe Credit Reports – 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 scam, safely check your credit score at annualcreditreport.com.
- 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.
- Employment Scams – In 2018, employment scams were the #1 culprit for scams attacking 18-25-year-olds. Job offerings can be sent directly to school emails, promising flexible hours and a beyond expected pay. There would be no need to send a social security number electronically without knowing exactly who you are sending it to. For more types of employment scams, visit BBB’s Tips: Employment Scams.
- 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.