Over the past year students have increasingly been targeted by fraudsters with a variety of different scams and that is only picking up with the extended time off between semesters. Awareness is always one of the best ways to avoid being a target of a scam.
What is the newest scam that is being targeted towards college students?
The newest one that the FTC is getting the most complaints about this fall is the fake check scam. Basically the student receives an email from what looks to be a professor from their college offering a part-time job. The email looks professional and often formatted like an email from the college.
How does the scam work?
Once the student accepts the job, the alleged professor will send a check for more than the agreed payment amount and ask the student to forward some of the money on to another person. After the student deposits the check and sends the money, their bank will find out the check is fake and withdrawal the entire amount of the deposit which means the student is out whatever money they forwarded to another person.
Is this the only way the fake check scam works?
Unfortunately, there are several versions of this scam. Other ways this work is that you win a prize, or get paid as a secret shopper or maybe even you sold something online and the buyer overpays. In all cases you get a check and are asked to send some of the money back or to another person.
How can students protect themselves from these scams?
It starts with being wary of any of the situations we have discussed. If you have a concern, talk to someone you trust or decide to never take a check for more than you should receive. Most importantly, never send money back to someone who sends you a check. And it is important to be avoid this scam because the average reported loss is nearly $2,000 per incident.
What other scams should students be wary of in the coming months?
There continues to be COVID scams such as fake stimulus money offers, new scholarships and grants and even fake job offers. Most of these have the goal of stealing identities and can be email, social media posts or even messaging within social media platforms. That is why it is important for college students to always verify before giving out any information.