Our Wired World

BBB Advises New College Students to Beware of Scams

From roommates to rentals to ‘dream jobs’, there’s a minefield of bogus offers aimed at the naive or uninitiated

The first year of college brings new challenges and opportunities. College opens doors that may be life changing, but it may also open the door to scammers that want to take advantage of unsuspecting young adults.

Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern MA, ME, RI & VT (BBB) is warning college students to be aware of scams targeting them during such an exciting time.

Students might not recognize when they come across a scam. Here are several types of scams targeted at students and how to avoid them:

Roommate Scams
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.

Rental Scams
Another form of a roommate/rental scam involves students searching for housing off-campus. Beware of fake rental properties posted online and always visit a potential rental before making any deposits.

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 everything, including training, travel, lodging, food, etc. associated with the job, forget it! Check out a business first at bbb.org.Scam Alert

Scholarship & Grant Scams
Scholarship-finding services “guarantee” grants or scholarships. They sell lists to students of potential scholarship or grant opportunities. However, nearly all available financial aid comes from the federal government or individual colleges. Go to grants.gov for more information.

Online Shopping Scams
You see a much-wanted item for a steep discount online. One you could not usually afford. 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.

The first year of college brings new challenges and opportunities. College opens doors that may be life changing, but it may also open the door to scammers that want to take advantage of unsuspecting young adults.

Phone Scams
Scammers will usually call students and say they have overdue parking tickets, owe tuition money, or need to pay off a student loan. They threaten the student may be arrested or be ineligible to graduate if these go unpaid.

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.

Here are a few other ploys to watch out for:

Credit Cards
While it’s important to build credit, it’s more important to maintain good credit. Many credit 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.

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.

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 do not know.

For more information you can trust, check out this college student’s story of a scam on campus.

Don’t forget to visit us at bbb.org/boston or like us on Facebook.




ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 172 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.3 million businesses, all available for free at bbb.org.
The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. BBB Serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island and Vermont was founded in 1920.