College Student Scams Target the Innocent and Vulnerable
You’re getting ready to leave home, to strike out on your own, to venture into the exciting, though a little scary, world of continuing education.
In general, you have every reason to be excited. However, as a young person, the sad truth is there are people out to get you. We don’t mean this in a creepy, overactive-imagination, paranoid way.
Rather, we want you to know that scammers are awaiting your inexperience. They want your money and are willing to do just about anything to get it.
Scholarships are an excellent way to pay for college. If you’ve spent your high school years working hard at maintaining an exceptional GPA, are an accomplished athlete or musician, or are just a well-rounded student, a number of scholarships will be available to you.
Co-Founder, eConsumer Services®
However, there are individuals and sites out there posing as potential scholarship providers. Here are some ways to recognize these scam websites:
- There’s a sense of urgency to the application process, more than just a deadline based one.
- There’s a fee associated with applying.
- There are no past winners mentioned or listed.
- The scholarship is guaranteed.
- The offer comes to you, unsolicited, without any effort exerted.
- There’s no contact information provided.
- They request your social security and banking information.
These are all serious red flag issues. Scholarships are a big deal, but since they come from institutions with the money and desire to provide for students, they don’t require any expenditure from you.
Legitimate scholarships will provide someone for you to talk to and will proudly list their previous winners. Finally, there’s no reason they need your social security and banking information in the application process. Report online scams like these!
When you get ready to attend college, if you’re in need of financial assistance, you’ll be using the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) as a means of acquiring loans and grants. The FAFSA, by definition, is free. Do not let anyone charge you for assistance filing or completing it.
In addition, if you’re handed the opportunity to attain a loan, don’t fall victim to the concept of a low interest rate when attached to exorbitant fees. Make sure you are utilizing a reputable bank. Get someone with more experience to review the contract with you, this is a means of credit protection. Trustworthy banks aren’t going to charge you ridiculous fees for their loan services. Be certain you understand all the fine print before signing anything!
This may seem a little obvious, but this scam happens all the time and is highly successful when utilized on college-age individuals. The basis is that an out of town residence is advertised, and a deposit is required to reserve it for the relocating student.
Unfortunately, when said student arrives, he/she discovers that the residence never existed and the deposit money is gone. If you haven’t seen the place, or haven’t had a trustworthy person verify it, don’t put a deposit on it!
As with all things, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Stay away from unsolicited, fee-required, guaranteed scholarships. Don’t pay anyone to help you file or fill out the FAFSA. Avoid excessive bank fees, and don’t sign paperwork without a trustworthy and experienced person helping you make sense of all the legalese.
Recognize that there are people willing to take advantage of you, lie to you and steal your money without any remorse. Basically, be careful in all your financial dealings; protect your social security and banking information at all costs.
If you do become a victim on a scam, contact us right away. We might be able to get your money back. Fill out the form to the right and we’ll review your case.