Just as college students begin to hit the books, scammers and hackers are ready to steal their information and money. If you know a student, learn about the following scams so you can help:
Tuition Scam: Fraudsters call or email college students tricking them into believing that their tuition was not fully paid. They then threaten them with being dropped from classes if they don’t pay the owed amount.
Common ways scammers trick students into believing their tuition was not paid are a bounced check, scholarship cancellation, or the fact that loan payments never made it to the school. They will then persuade students to wire money to an account.
If a college student is being contacted about a suspicious bill they should go directly to the college office that deals with tuition payments to see if there is any truth behind the call or email.
Housing Scams: Scammers know that college students have just gained a new form of independence. They will target students looking for housing by posting online advertisements. Scammers are hoping that a student will wire a deposit to claim the housing before visiting the place. The student is then shocked when they arrive to the “claimed” or paid housing, to find out that it does not exist, or was never on the market in the first place.
College students need to visit any housing they are considering before giving away sensitive information or money. If they are out of state, they should have a trusted friend visit in their place to ensure the legitimacy of the advertisement or work with a reputable real-estate agency.
Scholarships: Thieves know that college students are looking to make college inexpensive. Targeting students that are actively searching for scholarships, scammers trick students into paying for information about a “scholarship” or for an application fee. In reality, they are getting the college student to supply their banking information for a quick payout.
Students seeking scholarships should research the legitimacy of the scholarship before giving away personal information and should not have to pay to apply. Keep in mind scholarships have selection parameters (i.e. high GPA, school year, etc.), so if a scholarship seems to be approved for everyone, be on alert.
Fake Job Offers: Scammers target excited and eager students looking for employment. They post fake job offers online waiting for young adults to provide sensitive information in hopes of landing their dream job.
Legitimate job offers will not ask for banking information or utility bills without an interview first. Scammers may ask college students to pay for specific software requirements, credit reports, or training sessions via wire transfers. Legitimate companies will not ask you to do this.
Remind college students that if a job offer seems too good to be true, it probably is. Always research the company to ensure its legitimacy.
Social Media Risk: College students are at risk of sharing too much information over social media. Thieves and hackers can access social media profiles and collect personal information. By collecting information about a college student, they can try to hack their way into sites by answering common security questions.
To help prevent thieves from obtaining a blueprint of their identity, college students should make their social media accounts private and limit the amount and type of information they are sharing with the world.
If you believe you or someone you know might have fallen victim to one of these scams, please contact us.