Be wary of online scams targeting students, Better Business Bureau warns

Back to School

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — As students head back to school, some may be clicking around online in search of some last-minute supplies or other needs.

That’s why the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning families to be on the lookout for several schemes targeting students, namely those in high school and college.

“A lot of 18- to 24-year-olds rely on social media, rely on online shopping, and that’s where the scams can come in to play,” said Paula Fleming, the BBB’s local chief marketing and sales officer.

The most recent risk report from the BBB’s Scam Tracker revealed the highest median loss of money to scams was among that age group. Fleming said it’s important for parents to talk to their kids about these types of schemes before handing over the credit card.

“Young people, more so than ever, are accustomed and comfortable with sharing information online and virtually not thinking twice about exchanging money without caution,” she added.

Below are six types of scams targeting students from the BBB:

Getting your kids into healthy money habits early is crucial, according to Fleming, especially when it comes to credit cards, so they know how to stay on top of their credit score and avoid fake card offers.

“Not only could it create credit problems in the future after you get out of college due to unchecked spending, some of the deals can be phony, increased interest charges that you’re unaware of,” Fleming explained.

With many college students planning to live off campus, Fleming warned that if an apartment found online seems to good to be true — it probably is.

“The scam artists are taking the pictures of the homes and putting them at great prices when they aren’t even available to rent,” she said.

Fleming advised anyone looking for a place to live to start by going through their college or university, saying that many schools have a dedicated social media account for students, which may be a place to find a legitimate place to live.

“People might have a last-minute opening where someone decided they don’t want to share an apartment during this time,” she said.

Another scheme to watch out for involves phony scholarships and grants.

“We encourage college students to be wary of phone calls coming from companies — even now when they’re already registered for the college — guaranteeing they can help reduce with your loan payments or offer you a hefty grant if you pay up front a small portion,” Fleming said.

Anyone who has a loan out should contact the lender directly, according to Fleming, and those in need of financial aid should reach out to the school’s academic advisor’s office.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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