Students across the Bluegrass are now back on college campuses and the Better Business Bureau serving Central & Eastern Kentucky advises students and parents to be aware of scammers that may target these young people, many on their own for the first time.
According to 2018’s BBB Scam Tracker 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 now exposed to managing their own finances are online looking for ways to save. It is important to be aware of scammers looking to take advantage.
• Safe Credit Reports: After the age of 18, it’s a good idea to start becoming more aware of your credit score and start adapting some healthy money habits. It’s also a helpful signifier of any unusual activity and possible ID fraud. While there are multiple traps online trying to snag your Social Security number with a fake credit score scam, safely check your credit score at www.annualcreditreport.com
• Scholarship and Grant Scams: Beware of phone calls or emails from companies that guarantee they can help reduce or “forgive” student loan payments or set you up with a large “grant.” Search the company making the offer at bbb.org. Don’t deal with anyone who tells you to send a “fee” to get a grant or scholarship. Contact the school’s financial aid office for advice on any available scholarships/grants.
• Employment Scams: In 2018, employment scams were the #1 culprit for scams attacking 18-25 year olds. Job offerings can be sent directly to a student’s school email address, promising flexible hours and high pay. Be wary if you are offered jobs such as “reshipping packages,” “processing paychecks,” “mystery shopping,” or anything that involves a cashier’s check being sent to you. Some scammers will “interview” you in non-traditional settings, like Google Hangouts. Other red flags include being asked to pay a fee up front for a job or send a Social Security number via email or a website.
• Too-Good-to-Be-True Apartments: It’s hard to not jump on a convenient apartment or house close to campus, especially if it advertises affordable rent. It’s tempting to hand over credit card information online to lock in a great spot, but it’s always worth seeing the apartment in person prior to any transaction. If the property owner says he/she is out of the country and needs you to wire a deposit via money transfer, LOOK OUT. This also applies to Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace listings of other students looking for roommates.
• Protect Your Identity: Lock up important papers, credit cards or other documents containing personal information, especially if you share living quarters with others. Be mindful of public Wi-Fi when making any sensitive transactions online where scammers could gain access to your information. Make certain that smart phones, laptops and tablets are all secured with codes to unlock them, as well as have updated virus protection installed.