Let’s face it, college kids can be a bit vulnerable. They’re picking majors, meeting new people, and heading out on their own for the first time, making them a prime target for fraud. In fact, just this week the UK's fraud and cybercrime center Action Fraud along with the London police warned students about a phishing email scam that claimed student loan accounts had been suspended due to inaccurate information. The reader was asked to click a link and update their information on a fake site, where fraudsters would steal credentials and other personal information. As if student loans alone weren’t bad enough, now we have bad actors on a mission to make higher education even tougher by stealing your identity.
College students have enough to juggle when it comes to school, work and their social life. Now, protecting against fraud is part of that list and there are several types of fraud that students need to be aware of. Let’s take a look…
Apartment Catfish: Many college students spend their entire academic year scouting out off-campus housing for the following year. But, they need to know that asking for money BEFORE seeing an apartment is a bad sign. Just like that online love interest that seems like “the one” but won’t FaceTime, an apartment that won’t let you visit before making a deposit is likely catfishing you. While this may not seem like a big deal in a competitive market (we get it… that apartment on the beach DOES look perfect), there is never a reason to send money without viewing an apartment -- especially if the request is for a money transfer. In addition, fake listings have become a major problem. It’s easy for criminals to set up apartment rental listings online with fake pictures of places that don’t exist or have been copied from legitimate listings with tempting prices, so make sure there’s an in-person visit to the residence before any deposits are made.
The Tuition Scam: Fraudsters go where the money is, and with the cost of tuition and fees at a private, non-profit, four-year university school year averaging out at $31,231, it’s no wonder they’ve targeted college tuition payments. Often times a scammer will contact a college student or his or her parents saying that a tuition payment is late and there will be severe consequences, such as being dropped from classes, if the payment is not made immediately over the phone. Like other phone scams – the best advice is to hang up and speak directly with your school.
Online Books: Found an amazing deal online for textbooks? Similar to apartment listings, it’s now easier than ever to set up a fake website that takes your money but never ships any textbooks. Fraudsters have taken to setting up their own fake stores on Amazon or stealing the identities of third-party sellers. The best advice is to double check online book sellers through the Better Business Bureau before making any purchases.
College students are prime targets, but they’re not the only ones. To learn more about mobile payments and current fraud trends, download the Mobile Payments & Fraud: 2017 Report, presented by CardNotPresent, Braintree, The Fraud Practice and Kount.