You may be one of those students excited to go back to school because it means shopping for new school supplies or moving to a new dorm or apartment. However, while you’re enjoying your preparations to go back to school, scammers are busy tricking more young people into falling for their money-making schemes. Keep scrolling to learn the different types of back-to-school scams and how to avoid them!
Types of Back to School Scams
To help protect yourself and your parents against back to school scams, know their various types first, as discussed below:
When going back to school, you have so many things to shop for online. These may include a new laptop, lunch box, backpack, clothes, books, and more. Taking advantage of your excitement to acquire new school supplies, scam artists will send emails offering fake student discounts.
They will even tell you that you can enjoy some freebies. You just have to click on a link, which will redirect you to a fake website that gathers your personal and financial information. Most of these sites contain malware, so clicking on the link can infect your device. Apart from sending phishing emails and text messages, scam artists will post fake advertisements on various social media platforms. If you think the offers are too cheap and unrealistic, then they probably are.
Another thing you’re probably looking forward to when going back to school is moving to a new place. However, scammers also can’t wait to trick you into renting a place that may not even exist. Others urge you to pay in advance and then suddenly disappear once you send a deposit. That is why you must not agree with sending up-front payments without a formal lease agreement.
Note that fake roommates are also common. They will say they’re out of the country and will just send the payment in advance through a money order. Then, you’ll receive what appears to be a higher amount, and the scammers will ask you to send back the excess via wire transfer. However, the money they sent you was never real, so any money you send them will be your own.
Financial Aid Scams
Scammers know how costly going to school is. But instead of helping lessen students’ and parents’ burden, they will do their best to drain your bank account. By posting fake ads for financial assistance and sending fake emails, scammers will make you believe you can pay for your education with these services.
However, they will ask for an advance fee before you can apply for loans or receive a scholarship. Once you complete the application forms, they will use your personal information to steal your identity and money.
Student Tax Scams
One of the common back-to-school scams includes fake student taxes. Scammers will call you and introduce themselves as someone from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Then, they will say that you have to pay a federal student tax via wire transfer or gift cards. Otherwise, you will be arrested. Remember that the IRS will not call you, so never trust these calls to be real.
Going back to school may mean looking for a job that suits your schedule. However, con artists take advantage of your desire to earn money while studying and post job ads with crazy offers and benefits. If they ask you to settle some processing fee or any advance fee, then you are likely dealing with a scam — not a job opportunity.
How To Avoid Back to School Scams
After learning the various types of back to school scams, you need to avoid them by keeping the following tips in mind:
- Only use trusted online shopping sites when buying your school supplies.
- Ignore or delete emails and text messages that advertise unrealistic offers. Do not click on any suspicious link to avoid malware.
- Never send advance payments. No legitimate institution would require you to pay any amount just to get qualified for a scholarship or other financial assistance services. You’re supposed to get help — not spend more than you can.
- Be responsible by doing enough research. Find out the records of companies on Better Business Bureau (BBB), and look for possible complaints.
- Install reliable security software to keep your devices protected. Also, change your passwords regularly, and make sure they’re strong and unique, so nobody can guess them.
- For identity theft cases and other complaints, send a report to the Federal Trade Commission.
Go Back to School Safe With Social Catfish
While you’re busy preparing to go back to school, scam artists are also just as busy performing different types of scams. Avoid back-to-school scams with the tips we have presented above. To reveal the identity of any potential scam artist, check out Social Catfish and complete a reverse search using their name, phone number, email, or image!