College students must spend money on tuition payments and school supplies as they prepare for the new year. However, scammers are taking this opportunity to try to steal some of that money through various schemes and scams.
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.” Messages via text or email may appear, instructing the student to click on a link provided in the email and log in with a student username and password. Don’t do it; doing so could give the user name, password, or other personal information to scammers, while possibly downloading malware onto the device.
Whether you are starting school away from home or have young students who may be vulnerable to such scams, 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, but some of the deals could be phony offers designed to get access to personal information. Research the offers from the credit card flyers and the banking institutions before applying. Review the BBB tip on credit card scams.
- Too good to be true apartments – It’s hard not to 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 and social media ads appearing to be from other students looking for roommates. Read more about rental scams.
- ID theft – It’s a good idea to start practicing healthy money habits, and 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. Read BBB’s article on How to know if someone stole your identity.
- 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. 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; read our tips on scholarship scams.
- Online shopping scams – Online purchase scams can be especially effective when set up through social media platforms and apps. BBB has tips for smart shopping online and a page dedicated to online shopping tips and scam alerts.
- 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 Scam Tips to learn the latest scam trends and read local reports of specific incidents.