New College Grads Often the Targets of Scammers
This year’s class of college graduates are getting ready to start their new lives! It’s a big transition that includes several important changes. Grads may be moving to a new city, finding a new place to live, or searching for a new job. Graduation also often means new financial responsibilities, such as starting payments on student loans.
“First year college students are exposed to all kinds of new possibilities,” Mechele Agbayani Mills, President and CEO of BBB Serving Central East Texas said. “Unfortunately, this also makes them vulnerable to scam artists who make attempts to take advantage of their inexperience”
The following tips can help new grads avoid common scams.
Know the terms of your student loans
One of the most common ways scammers target college graduates is with fake loan forgiveness opportunities. You may receive an unsolicited email, phone call, or text message stating that you can qualify for lowered payments through a debt forgiveness program. To use the company’s services, just fill out a form and pay a fee. Some of these companies are real, but they pitch their services with false claims and incomplete information. Other companies are fakes, only hoping to get their hands on your personal information and money.
Scammers may also contact college grads regarding student loan repayment hiatus in response to COVID-19. See the latest U.S information on loan repayment. Check Canada’s latest student loan information.. Scammers may claim that to take advantage of the program, you need to complete a form or pay a fee. In reality, you may not need to do this, so check your facts before giving anyone your information.
Understanding the ins and outs of your student loan – what kind of interest you owe, when you need to start paying (in most cases you won’t need to make a payment until six months after you’ve graduated), and for how long you’ll be expected to make payments – will protect you from these scams.
Be wary of unsolicited messages about unpaid tuition
Some con artists contact graduates or their parents claiming some of their tuition was left unpaid. If it isn’t paid immediately, the graduate’s degree will be revoked. Scammers may ask you to send money via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.
Whether you are contacted by phone, email, or text message, be wary of anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Government agencies, as well as most higher education facilities, will contact you by mail initially. If you aren’t sure if a message is legitimate, do some research to verify the person’s claims. Ask to contact them later. Then, investigate by looking up information on the official website or calling your school’s bursar’s office. Don’t give in to pressure to make a decision right away.
Do research before accepting jobs or job interviews
Scammers may offer recent graduates high paying, easy, entry-level jobs. Con artists are skilled at drawing new grads in by promoting unrealistic wages for generally labeled job positions, such as “virtual assistant” or “customer service rep.” They may ask for your personal information, including your bank account and Social Security number, claiming they need it to set up direct deposit or file taxes. In other cases, scammers require you to pay for training. In yet another version, you may be “accidentally” overpaid with a fake check and asked to send back the extra funds.
If you are considering a job with a company you aren’t familiar with, do some research before you complete an application or agree to an interview. Make sure the company has legitimate contact information, and the position is posted on their corporate website. Scammers often steal the names of real companies for their phony job postings.
For tips for avoiding scams while job hunting, check out BBB’s report on employment scams.
Watch out for rental scams
Find a gorgeous apartment in a trendy neighborhood at an affordable price? There’s a good chance that it’s a scam. According to a survey by Apartment List, 43% of people looking for a rental online have encountered a bogus listing. In many cases, scammers simply copy the photo and description of a real property. Then, they post it online with their own contact information and try to get a deposit and first month’s rent from the victim.
If you are looking to rent a home or apartment, find out how much other rental properties in the area cost before you sign a lease. Scammers often lure victims by promising low rents, extra amenities, and a great location. If the price seems much better than offered elsewhere, it may be a scam. Also, be sure to see the apartment or house in person. Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised. Finally, read lease agreement documents before you sign. Don’t be embarrassed to consult with friends or family members who may be more knowledgeable on the subject if you have doubts or questions.
See this BBB investigation for more tips on rental scams. Read more about scams targeting current college students. To learn more about scams and how to avoid them, visit BBB.org/AvoidScams.
About BBB: BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Most BBB services to consumers are free of charge. BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information. BBB Serving Central East Texas was founded in 1985 and serves 19 counties