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Common College Students Financial Scams and How to Avoid Them

Beginning your college education is one of the most interesting things in life. International student or not as a young adult, you will have certain exciting experiences that will help you grow.

Being financially independent gives you the freedom to invest and spend your money according to your wish, and that, at times, can get you into trouble.

COVID has been hard on us all, but we still need to get back to our lives, coping up with new changes and challenges each day. Yet there is still something that we hope you never experience in your college life, and that is college scams.

So this blog is about the scams targeting college students and how to avoid them for good.

While as an international student, you focus more on constantly updating your documents, knowing more about CPT and OPT jobs in the USA, Visa rules, and most importantly, learning new skills and knowledge, you should also be careful about frauds.

While you move out for college, you will come across certain scammers with various tactics as you start looking for an apartment or signing up for utilities, or getting a new credit card. So it is always better to be careful while you wish to live a carefree college life.

Students often struggle between keeping up with the trends and adjusting to the new culture around them, but most people out there are looking for their next target to get rich.

Therefore, this guide is all about some of the common scams that students may encounter during their academic careers. This will help you better understand some warning signs that typically accompany student scams and the ways to avoid them.

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Common College Students Scams

1. Scholarship and Financial Aid Scam

This scam is one of the most common scam college students fall prey to. When it comes to financial aids (something that students need the most), be wary of scholarship programs that require an application fee or sound too good to be true.

In reality, students receive a call that he/she has received a scholarship for which they just need to submit the bank account information so that they can credit the fund. This might seem normal, but this is what scammers do to get a victim’s personal or financial details.

Or they might send you fraudulent scholarship websites that are set up to collect e-mail addresses or other information for future scholarships and financial aid scams.

How to Avoid it?

To avoid scholarships and financial aid scams, avoid giving any of your personal or bank details to strangers. Do your proper research about the agency or the sponsor that called you for the same. Scholarship programs include selection parameters, which might include a high GPA, participation in clubs and activities, or volunteer experience. If they don’t ask you for any such kind of proof, it is probably a scam.

2. Student Loan and Debt scams

In reality, no one out there will easily give you an education loan or pay your debt. No one is that generous. Banks don’t call you for giving you a loan; neither will they clear your debt. If you want a student loan, you must visit the official website of a bank or visit the bank. The scammers often lure students into taking loans and then slowly divert payments to their own accounts.

In some cases, they even change the borrower’s contact information on the US Department of Education websites to limit the victim’s contact with the legitimate federal loan servicers.

How to Avoid it?

So if you get a call out of nowhere stating they will provide you student loan or anything, ask for their official details, check their website, and if you don’t find it relevant, file a complaint in cybercrime. Also, if you have any ongoing loans, be directly in touch with your loan servicer provider.

3. Rental Housing Scams

Housing is the first thing you will look for when you move out for higher education. International students often get into rental housing scams due to a lack of information. As looking for a good place to stay is new for students, scammers use this lack of knowledge as an opportunity to exploit students.

So as you search for a housing facility online, you will be tempted to send a deposit without actually seeing the place first hand, especially if it seems to be an amazing deal. You pay the deposit online, but later, when you reach the place, you find out the address was fake, and your money is gone. So it is always advisable to say in a hotel for a few days and then visit the place before paying any deposit.

How to Avoid it?

Avoid paying any advance before visiting the place even if the roommate claims to be living out of the area, refuses other forms of face-to-face communication, such as video chat or call. Check out the address and common rentals in that specific area. If the rent seems less than the rest, know that it could be a fake advertisement.

4. College Tuition Scam

Scammers often contact college students saying they lack grades to get an admission in a particular college or promotion to next year, and so for that, they ask students to pay fees. They also say that unless a credit card payment is made immediately, the student will be dropped from their classes or failed.

How to Avoid it?

Suppose you receive any such call or e-mail hang-up immediately and do not click on the link given in the e-mail. Directly contact the college authorities and inform them of the details.

5. Phishing – Telephone or Internet Scam

As stated earlier, international students are the easy target for scammers due to a lack of knowledge of the new country. International students often get calls from fake immigration officers seeking completion of paperwork and other personal details.

They also ask them to send money through Western Union to purchase a temporary visa in order to stay in the country.

Remember that government officials don’t ask for any payment through call, nor will they inform you of rules to be followed. All the rules are stated on the government’s official website.

How to Avoid it?

So if you get a call, ask for their website, id proof, or any other legal proof. Never share any personal information over the telephone, especially your Social Security or passport number.

5. Social Media Scams

Although social media is fun, it can get you into trouble as well. In this digital world, students have greater access to information regarding potential schools, employment opportunities, and their peers. Your personal information is easily accessible, but scammers will still need to contact you.

Hence, it is better never to share any of your personal detail, Social Security, or passport number with a person that you meet online. They might also ask you to fill a survey form or use a social media marketing strategy that offers free deals and trail offer.

This way, they steal your personal information, and you may get into unnecessary trouble.

How to Avoid it?

Avoid filling any survey form sent to you through a social media account. Do not send any money if you are contacted through the university’s social media account. Also, if you are approached for the same immediately, report the incident to the social media website through which the scam was orchestrated. If you have lost any money, contact local law enforcement to file a report.

6. Credit Card Scams

Applying for your first credit card as you begin your college can be fun and exciting. But scammers as well are waiting on the other end for their next target. So before applying for a credit card or replying to any e-mail, check the details properly.

Also, if you already have your credit card, make sure you do not share any of the related information with anyone. Credit card skimmers often use devices, called skimmers, to scan data from your credit card’s magnetic strip and then create fake id using that information.

This means the money of the bank will be stolen by another person, and you will need to repay it if you are not able to detect it in time.

How to Avoid it?

Avoid sharing any of the sensitive information with your roommate or close friend as well. Use a VPN to encrypt your connection with the network router so that hackers won’t be able to access any information you submit or receive online.

Keep checking your online accounts regularly, as well as credit card reports and scores to avoid getting into trouble. And somehow, if you get into one, report the fraud immediately.

7. Employment scams

College students are more likely to get into the trap of employment scammers. Scammers collect all the personal information from students through enticing job offers. And later use it to steal money from the student’s bank account. As a student, you should know that employers don’t offer a lot of pay for entry-level jobs.

How to Avoid it?

Avoid sending money to employers that promise a good high paying job without checking any of their details. Also, avoid getting in touch with employers through suspicious-looking e-mail address or company website, or being asked to interview in an unusual location.

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8. Student Tax Scam

University students fall target to tax scams more often due to lack of information. Scammers target college students with fake tax refund e-mails in an attempt to steal their banking and personal details. They use fake e-mail addresses, websites to avoid detection.

How to Avoid it?

If you ever get any calls regarding a tax refund, check out the details carefully before you share any of your personal or bank information. Also, remember that colleges don’t ask for any of your personal details as they already have them.

These are the common college scams that students face as they step out to begin their new life. Apart from these, students also fall into the trap of scammers due to carelessness and lack of information, that affect the students financially as well as their career.

So it is always better to stay alert whenever you get any unknown call or unofficial mail. Check all details before sending any money or personal detail. The more alert you are better will be your college life.

Ajeet Sharma, the founder of Financegab and a well-known name in the field of financial blogging. Blogging since 2017, he has the expertise and excellent knowledge about personal finance. Financegab is all about personal finance which aims to create awareness among people about personal finance and help them to make smart, well-informed financial decisions.


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