Students have struggled a lot, especially during these tough pandemic-induced times. An added stress to their many responsibilities that include studying, taking exams, holding down a part-time job and trying to save, are people who try to con them. So, how do you avoid scams?
Before we get into that, you need to know that scammers often target young people in newer and more creative ways. A report by the Identity Theft Resource Centre stated that students are most vulnerable when looking for an apartment, signing up for utilities or getting a credit card — all while in a foreign country.
Below, we take a look at the top five ways students are deceived. Stay calm, we’ll also give you handy tips on how to avoid scams:
Fictional flat listings
This is a top one for students as there are many cyber criminals who make the time and effort to post fake listings of an ideal apartment. The “landlord” can’t show you the place but offers for you to secure it by wiring a deposit. Never fall for this.
Develop your research skills by doing an internet search with the apartment’s address to find any contact names related to it. You’ll most probably come across a legitimate listing and someone to contact so you can verify whether or not it’s real.
Just like those emails saying you’re entitled to a hefty sum of money from a random person you’ve never met, you should stay alert to avoid scams like this.
Always, always, always make sure you’re in direct contact with your school to confirm the legitimacy of your “award”. You can also perform a quick search on the organisation who offered it to you and see what you find. You should never be required to send money for a grant.
Hey college students: Scammers are pretending to be from the “Financial Department” of universities and sending phishing emails to students, using #COVID19 stimulus checks as the bait. Don’t fall for it! Tips on how to spot and avoid scams like these: https://t.co/LTI3dzwEmU pic.twitter.com/Lj2Q76TbHJ
— FTC (@FTC) May 27, 2020
Unpaid tuition fee claims
Another day, another call. Suddenly, you get someone claiming to be a representative of your college telling you your tuition payment is late and you’ll be dropped from all classes unless you immediately pay over the phone.
First of all, end the call as soon as possible. Then, contact your school’s financial aid office through a verified phone number from the institution’s official website to check whether the request is valid. If it isn’t, report the incident.
Phishing student loan scams
These scammers love to email and tend to choose the last few weeks of August as this is the time students start receiving their loans ahead of the school year.
These scam spotting tips are relevant for students and non-students alike — but if you’re a student who has received an email from the Student Loans Company (SLC) you think might be fake, forward it to email@example.com, and report to @actionfrauduk → https://t.co/piCjr2cLtL pic.twitter.com/ysOsB8PaAA
— Which? (@WhichUK) July 29, 2018
Again, while there’s no way to delete and block email scams requesting information on your loot because new accounts get made all the time, always check the sender’s address. This is something you can check with your institution and report if it’s an unknown sender.
Avoid scams on social media
One in five young adults have been hacked on social media and 43% don’t even know how it happened. Once a hacker gets your account, they take control of your digital life and if you share sensitive details, have many accounts linked, save your credit card information and address, it could be the end for you.
Be safe online, never share private information, and don’t click on the link to take you to a free survey. Stay alert and always think twice.