Oakmere Road: How first-year college students can avoid being victims of scammers

First-year college students go through a lot of growing pains as they face new challenges and opportunities. As they figure out which major to choose, learn how to juggle work and school and just live on their own for the first time, scam artists lie in wait hoping the students make a mistake.


First-year college students are exposed to all kinds of new possibilities, which make them vulnerable to scam artists who make attempts to take advantage of their lack of life experiences.


BBB sheds some light on the following scams, which target those attending college:


Accommodation scams: Rental owners are supposedly governed by strict controls over the conditions in which they maintain their properties. However, there are unscrupulous landlords who don’t play by the rules. You want to make sure you actually go to the property before putting any money down, and make sure you’re getting what you expected.


Non-existent rentals: They take your downpayment, and when you arrive, the person you gave the money to doesn’t even own the property, or the property doesn’t exist. Before providing any form of payment, visit the property and research the property management company by going to bbb.org.


Finding a place to work: If the job you’re looking at involves door-to-door selling, such as selling magazines, cleaning supplies, handyman work or even raising money for charity, you want to make sure you check the company out before you begin working for them. In some cases, the product doesn’t exist, the charity is bogus or the handyman really doesn’t do the work you’re selling, which means you’re not likely going to get paid.



Fake initial checks: Steer clear from any job that sends you a check to deposit, then wants you to wire funds or put funds to a prepaid card. The problem is, the check is fake or it might be a forged check from an actual bank account (but not from the company on the check), and you could be charged with money laundering if you cash it.


Paying for school: Be on the lookout for phony scholarships and grants. These people are just trying to get your account information to wipe it out, not to deposit money for school as they claim.


Paying for anything: Some identity thieves set up fake credit card application booths luring students to give away very personal information in exchange for a T-shirt or an umbrella or something like that. It’s basically an easy way to steal information. If you want to get a credit card, go to the bank and apply for one.


Unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot: Using Wi-Fi on an unsecured network puts you at risk for identity theft. A lot of students use public places to study. Make sure you use encryption software and password protection to block identity thieves when doing homework in these Wi-Fi hotspots, and do not log onto your bank account or other sites that contain personal information.


For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, please call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or use BBB Scam Tracker.