BBB Warns of Scams Targeting College Students

Published 6:27 pm Tuesday, August 14, 2018

From the Better Business Bureau

Earning a college degree can open many doors, including the door for crooks to steal your hard earned money and sensitive information. In 2017, 40% of young adults aged 20-29 reported losing money to a scam. Whether it’s your first or final year of college, Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina has some useful tips for college students and their parents.

“College students make the perfect target for scammers due to their vulnerability and lack of experience,” says Mallory Wojciechowski, president and CEO of Better Business Bureau serving NC. “BBB research has found consumers aged 18-24 are more than three times as likely as seniors to not recognize a scam.”

Before sending your child off to college this year, BBB recommends parents sit down with their student to discuss the real life dangers of scams.

Top scams affecting college students include:

Roommate and Rental Scams — The average cost for room and board in 2017–2018 ranged from $10,800 to $12,210 per year. In an effort to save money, many students opt for off-campus housing. If you post an ad for a roommate through online classifieds, 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. You are asked to cash it and wire back the rest, but when you cash it, the check bounces and you’re out the difference.

Scholarship Scams — Students and parents looking for scholarships and grants to pay for college can unfortunately lead them to pay for services that are nothing more than scams. Some scholarship-finding services “guarantee” that they can find you extra scholarships or grants – be aware that no one can guarantee that you will receive a grant or a scholarship. In other instances, services that state they need your credit card or bank account number to “hold a scholarship” could drain your bank accounts and lead to identity theft. Finally, if a service says a scholarship will cost money upfront, do research to make sure this is a legitimate scholarship before paying any application fees.

Employment Scams — Beware of ads that pop up near campus offering jobs with “no experience necessary.” Often, these “opportunities” are bogus. If you’re interviewed in a hotel lobby or required to sign a contract, or have to pay for training, travel, lodging, food, etc. associated with the job, forget it! Check out a business first at

Tech Support — Many students use a laptop and scammers are aware of this. A popular scam appears as a call or a pop-up on your computer claiming to be from a reputable tech support source such as Microsoft or Apple, alerting you to a problem or security breach. To fix the “problem” you must give remote access to the caller. Don’t be fooled by this – THEY are the security breach. Once given access, they can install malware on your computer and steal personal information.

Illegal Downloads — Over the course of a year, the average college student spends more than $1,200 on books and materials. While it may be tempting to save money by downloading free textbooks, many of these sites contain malware that can end up causing financial havoc.

Counterfeit Products — Counterfeit products are common at pop-up stores and marketplaces where scammers can sell items that claim to be a certain brand without fear of getting caught. Shopping for brand-name products at these locations sounds like a better deal than purchasing from a reputable website or store, however it’s only cheaper because it’s manufactured differently, which could result in faulty products.

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