First-year college students go through a lot of growing pains as they face new challenges and opportunities. As new students figure out which major to choose, learn how to juggle work and school and just live on their own for the first time, scam artists lie in wait hoping the students make a mistake. The Better Business Bureau reminds first-year students to make wise life choices by making educated decisions.
The BBB sheds some light on the following scams which target those attending college:
Accommodation scams: Rental owners are supposedly governed by strict controls over the conditions in which they maintain their properties, however there are unscrupulous landlords who don’t play by the rules. You want to make sure you actually go to the property before putting any money down and make sure you’re getting what you expect.
Then, there are also non-existent 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 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 looking at involves door-to-door selling, such as magazines, cleaning supplies, handyman work or even raising money for charity, you want to make sure you check the company out before you begin working for it. In some 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.
Money-laundering scam: 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. The problem is, the check is fake or it might be a forged check from an actual bank account (but not from the company on the check), and you could be charged with money laundering if you cash it.
Paying for school: Be on the lookout for phony scholarships and grants that are just trying to get your account information to wipe it out, not to deposit money for school as they claim.
Paying for anything: Some identity thieves set up fake credit card application booths, luring students to give away very personal information in exchange for a T-shirt or an umbrella or something like that. It’s basically an easy way to steal information. If you want to get a credit card, go to the bank and apply for one.
Be safe on Wi-Fi hotspots: Using Wi-Fi on an unsecured network puts you at risk for identity theft. A lot of students use public places to study, and you want to make sure you use encryption software and password protection to block identity thieves when doing homework in these Wi-Fi hotspots, and don’t log on to your bank account or other sites that contain personal information.
For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or use BBB Scam Tracker.