College brings new challenges and opportunities, but it may also open the door to scammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting young adults. Many students might not recognize when they come across a scam. The Better Business Bureau serving eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont (BBB) is warning the community of the top five scams affecting students.
“There’s a reason so many college students fall victim to these scams, and it may surprise them to know that scammers use many of the same techniques as legitimate professionals,” said Paula Fleming, chief marketing and sales officer for the local BBB. “Students need to be aware of the scams that directly target them.”
According to BBB Scam Tracker, online purchases were the top scam affecting college students in 2016, with 2,341 total scams reported in the U.S. and Canada. The list was compiled based on more than 7,077 scam reports filed by consumers on bbb.org/scamtracker.
Online Purchases. Online shopping is a popular way for students to shop for college necessities, but it’s also a popular way for scammers to steal personal information. Scammers create websites that claim to sell items that often look legitimate to the average shopper, but instead collect the victim’s information and vanish from contact.
Employment. Students tend to search for part-time jobs on recruiting sites that allow them to work from their computer while still enrolled in school. While this new trend is a common tactic for job-seekers, BBB Scam Tracker has received reports of fake job offers sent to applicants’ emails. These scammers claim to be responding to a submitted application or have viewed a resume on an online recruiting site.
Counterfeit Products. Counterfeit products are common at pop-up stores and markets – places 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 they are manufactured differently, which could result in faulty products.
Fake Checks. Fake check scams often involve a check issuer “accidentally” sending a check with a higher amount of money than they actually owe you. They will ask you to deposit the check and then wire the difference back to them. The catch is that the check they sent you was a fake, but it takes days or even weeks for the check to bounce. By then, you’ve wired money over to the scammer that you can’t get back and still haven’t received the money owed to you.
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.