College students wary of scams this back-to-school season, says BBB
PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – With the start of the new school year fast approaching for local universities, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning students about potential scams.
The BBB said there are at least seven scams targeting students trying to obtain their personal information. Makayla Six is a new senior at Portland State University and she understands why scammers are targeting students.
“We’re a little more naive and, we’re less aware of scams, and more desperate for money,” Six said.
Six has never been scammed, but she said it can be easy to fall for it. The BBB said many scams send students emails to their university inbox, with a domain name that looks official.
“I don’t watch anything that isn’t school sent or things that I expected,” Six said. “I think it can counteract part of opening an email and be like it’s about me.”
The BBB said it monitors these six of the seven scams reported to it by students:
- Fake credit cards – Offers to apply for the first credit card are tempting for many students. Not only could this create credit problems due to uncontrolled spending, but some of the offers could be bogus offers designed to access personal information. Look for offers from credit card and banking institution flyers before applying. Review the BBB tip on credit card scams.
- Apartments too good to be true – It’s hard not to jump at a convenient apartment so close to campus, especially if it advertises affordable rent. It’s tempting to pass credit card information online to lock down a great spot, but it’s always worth seeing the apartment in person before a money transfer. This also applies to ads on Craigslist and social media appearing to be from other students looking for roommates. Learn more about rental scams.
- Identity theft – It’s a good idea to start practicing sound financial habits, and one of those habits is to check your credit report regularly for unusual activity and possible identity fraud. The official government website to do this for free is annualcreditreport.com. Read BBB’s article on How to know if someone has stolen your identity.
- Scholarships and grants scams – Beware of phone calls from companies guaranteeing they can help reduce loan repayments or offer a large grant. Searching the company name online might bring up scam alerts or negative reviews from other consumers. Read reviews and complaints about the company on BBB.org and contact the school’s financial aid office for advice and help with funding your education. Scholarship scams can affect students even after graduation; read our advice on scholarship scams.
- Online shopping scams – Online shopping scams can be especially effective when set up through social media platforms and apps. BBB has tips for making smart online purchases and a page dedicated to online shopping tips and scam alerts.
- Awareness of current scams – As tech-savvy as today’s students may be, a surprising number of scams reported to BBB’s ScamTracker come from students who learned their lesson too late. Use BBB Scam Tips to learn about the latest scam trends and read local reports of specific incidents.
The BBB also said there was an employment scam targeting students looking to earn extra money. It works when an email is sent to a student with a job offer and says they are hired immediately. However, they then ask the student to purchase prepaid debit cards and gift cards which would be sent to the employer. In return, they would deposit some of the money into the student’s bank account. But the BBB said it was a bogus offer and the scammer took all the money.
“Unfortunately, you can totally fall for a scam, but stay informed, track your searches, and know who is sending you things,” Six said. “It’s the best you can do, isn’t it?” »
You can report a scam by visiting the Federal Trade Commission website by clicking here.
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