PENSACOLA, Florida — College students are often intended targets of scams. Newly independent and excited to be on their own, that freedom can make them targets of and susceptible to scams.
Students may not always recognize when a scam comes knocking. As college students begin to head back to campus, the Better Business Bureau wants to remind students and parents about preventing fraud when they’re away from home.
BBB has some information on the top scams for college students to avoid:
●Roommate-rental scheme – If you post an ad for a roommate on Craigslist, beware of “fake roommates” who are out of the country, but can provide the rent upfront in the form of a money order. When you receive it, the amount is higher than the amount requested (overpayment scam). You are asked to cash it, and wire back the rest. This is a scam!
●Credit cards – Credit card offers are all over campus. While it is important to build credit, it is more important to maintain good credit. Many of these cards have annual fees or charge high interest rates on purchases. Shop around for the best rate and pay off your credit card bills every month.
●Employment – Beware of ads that pop up near campus offering jobs with “no experience necessary.” Often, these “opportunities” are bogus! If you are interviewed in a hotel lobby or required to sign a contract, or have to pay for everything including training, travel, lodging, food, etc. associated with the job – forget it! Check out a company first with bbb.org.
●Scholarships and grants – Scholarship-finding services “guarantee” grants or scholarships. They sell lists to students on potential scholarship or grant opportunities. However, nearly all available financial aid comes from the federal government or from individual colleges. Go to grants.gov for more information.
●Safeguard your ID – Keep your personal information, including your driver’s license, student ID, debit cards, credit cards, and bank information in a SAFE place. Be wary of any online solicitations, emails, social media sites, or phone calls asking for your personal information. NEVER give out personal information to someone you don’t know.
●Locksmith scams – College students are prone to locking themselves out of their homes or cars. If this happens to you, you probably will use your cell phone or local yellow pages to find a nearby locksmith. Problem is, some disreputable locksmiths will post bogus addresses in their ads to make them appear local, when they’re not. Check out the company first, and make sure you are not over-charged for services. (BBB recommends researching first and keeping the local, reputable locksmith’s contact information in your purse or wallet).
●Online shopping deals – You see a much-wanted item for a steep discount online. The catch? The site asks you to wire payment to them instead of using a credit card – a huge red flag. Once the money is sent, the item is never received.
Also make sure you have the company’s address, and double check it to make sure the address exists (and isn’t a rented drop box). Before providing your credit card information online, be sure that the lock icon and https: appears in the URL.
●Trial offers – From fitness club memberships to magazine subscriptions to acne medicine, diet pills, or free DVDs and CDs, know how much these products and services are going to cost you once the “Free Trial Offer” expires.
●Illegal downloads – It may be tempting to save money by downloading free music, movies, or textbooks, but many contain spyware that can end up causing financial havoc.
To report or track a scam, visit www.bbb.org/scamtracker/northwest-florida.