College students can be easy targets for scammers and identity thieves. They are old enough to have money, young enough to be vulnerable and are likely unsupervised as many are away from home for the first time. Better Business Bureau’s study, Cracking the Invulnerability Illusion, shows 69 percent of scam victims are under the age of 45 and young adults of the millennial generation are now more likely to fall victim to a scam than baby boomers. Knowing the most common cons directed at students can help educate young adults to identify and ultimately avoid falling victim to the tricks of con artists.
College students and their families can also be proactive in fighting fraud with this advice from your BBB:
• Verify the identity of a sender before downloading attachments or clicking on links in emails or text messages, even if they appear to be urgent.
• Steer clear of Employment Scams by researching job offers sent to your school email account or posted on school message boards promising flexible hours with excellent pay.
• Pay with a Credit Card. If you’re asked to pay for a product or service with a prepaid debit card, a wire transfer or a gift card, you should verify the person or company, first. A credit card offers additional protection if you must dispute a charge.
• Lock up materials with sensitive information, like student IDs, SSN and account numbers, to protect yourself from identity theft. Remember that it’s not always a stranger looking to steal your personal financial information. Someone you know can gain access to your personal information in dorms or other common spaces.
• Never allow access to your financial accounts. This will prevent scams like card cracking, where someone offers to pay you to use your bank account to deposit a check. Research options for credit protection. Thanks to a new federal law in the U.S., free credit freezes and year-long fraud alerts are available through the three credit reporting agencies (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion). More information about these scams can be found at bbb.org. You can also report a scam at bbb.org/scam-tracker. This free service allows BBB and the public to stay ahead of scam trends appearing in your neighborhood.