As first year college students go through a lot of growing pains, they face new challenges and opportunities. From figuring out which major to choose, learning how to juggle work and school and just living on your own for the first time, scam artists lie in wait and hope that students make a mistake. BBB reminds first year students to make wise life choices by making educated decisions.
“First year college students are exposed to all kinds of new possibilities,” said Mechele Agbayani Mills, president and CEO of BBB serving Central East Texas. “Unfortunately, this also makes them vulnerable to scam artists who make attempts to take advantage of their lack of life experiences.”
BBB offers the following tips to avoid college student scams:
Accommodation scams. Be on the lookout for bogus rentals. They take your down payment, and when you arrive, the person you gave the money to doesn’t even own the property or the property doesn’t even exist. Before providing any form of payment, visit the property and research the property management company by going to bbb.org.
Finding a place to work. If the job you’re considering involves door to door selling, like selling magazines, cleaning supplies, handyman work or even raising money for charity, make sure you check the company out before you begin working for them. In many cases, the product doesn’t exist, the charity is bogus, or the handyman really doesn’t do the work you’re selling, which means you’re not likely going to get paid.
Steer clear from any job that sends you a check to deposit, then wants you to wire funds or put funds to a prepaid card. If the check is fake or a forged check from an actual bank account (but not from the company on the check), you could be charged with money laundering if you cash it.
Paying for school. Be on the lookout for phony scholarships and grants which are just trying to get your account information to wipe it out, not to deposit money for school as they claim.
Credit card applications. Some identity thieves target students either in person or online and entice them to to give away very personal information in exchange for a t shirt or an umbrella or other “free” item. The safest way for you to apply for credit is to go through your bank or credit union.
Be safe on Wi-Fi hotspots. Using Wi-Fi on an unsecured network puts you at risk for identity theft. Many of students use public places to study. Make sure you use encryption software and password protection to block identity thieves when doing homework in these Wi-Fi hotspots, and never log onto your bank account or other sites that contain personal information.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: (903) 581-8373 or report it via BBB Scam Tracker.