With tuition payments, financial aid applications and school supplies, August definitely stands out as students spend their (or their parent’s) money to go back to school. Scammers definitely know this and will try to take advantage of students during this time of year.
So, whether you’re starting school yourself or have kids who might fall for a scam I recommend keeping an eye out for these top 3 scams before starting the school year:
1. Fake Credit Cards
It’s no secret that college students are prime targets for credit card companies. In fact, I remember signing up for a credit card at a fold out table back at UCLA just so I could get a free T-shirt! There are a lot of “deals” and gimmicks out there just like this aimed at getting college students to apply for their first credit card. Now here’s the problem: some of them are gimmicks designed to harvest personal information. Be sure to do your research on those credit card flyers, emails, promotions and mailers before applying. A quick google search on your phone will do the trick!
2. Too Good to be True Apartments
We all know that a lot of apartment listings on Craigslist and Hotpads are straight up scams, so why do they still show up there? Simple, because people still fall for them and all too often, the victims are college students. In fact, I know personally a college friend who fell for one on Craigs and he’s a smart guy who was in law school at the time! Here’s what I recommend – seeing the apartment in person before handing over a cent. Even better, look for a unit that is managed by a professional property management company. If it’s a roommate situation, ask for personal references and if possible, avoid paying in cash. Your bank can print you a handful of checks if you only need a few at a time and it’s a better way to track whatever you pay instead cash. By the way, if they won’t accept a check or cashier’s check, that should be a red flag for you right there.
3. Employment Scams
Last year employment scams were the #1 culprit for scams attacking the 18-25 year old demographic. Job offers are often sent directly to school emails addresses, promising flexible hours and a high pay. What are they after? Social security numbers. Apply for one of those “jobs” with your personal info and social security number and it’s gone baby.
The Take Away
According to the Better Business Bureaus’s ScamTracker Risk Report, 41.6% of students reported a loss when exposed to a scam as compared to 28.3% of non-students. Students who are new to managing their own finances are susceptible to scammers so it’s important that we stay skeptical of anything that sounds too good to be true.
Hey, if you want a second opinion, feel free to reach out to us – we’ll have a look at whatever you’ve come across and let you know if it’s a scam.
Stay safe out there.