Protecting Young Adults from Scammers

Articles | February 26, 2019

Protecting Young Adults from Scammers

While striking out on their own for the first time is an exciting milestone, it’s also a time that leaves young adults vulnerable to scams. The combination of unfamiliar surroundings, meeting new people, and a false sense of confidence makes them perfect targets. Offers of scholarships, extra cash, and student loan relief may sound great, but many college-age students fail to recognize the ones that sound too good to be true. Here are some of the most common student scams, and ways to avoid them. If you work with students, feel free to share these ideas to help prepare them for the fight against fraud.

Financial Aid and Scholarship Scams

Paying for education is one of the most common obstacles students face, so it’s no wonder they find offers of scholarships and financial aid enticing. Even though there are many reputable options available, students often opt for quick and easy solutions without understanding that some companies don’t have their best interests in mind.

Red Flags

  • Offers that sound too good to be true
  • Promises of guaranteed funds
  • No eligibility exclusions
  • Limited-time offers
  • Promises of immediate student loan forgiveness or debt relief
  • Application fees, especially those that must be paid over the phone or by credit card

Who to Contact

If a student has already fallen victim to a financial aid or scholarship-related scam, they should report the incident to one of the following organizations.

Housing Scams

Finding suitable housing is another hurdle faced by young adults, and it is sadly another way in which they can be taken advantage of. They may be asked to submit a deposit without being shown the accommodations, or if they are seeking a roommate, they might be sent a fake check for more than the deposit amount, and then asked to send a refund for the difference. While there are many ways for students to fall prey when dealing with housing, there are a few warning signs to watch out for.

Red Flags

  • Offers that sound too good to be true
  • Potential roommates who live outside of the area (especially out of the country), and are unwilling to communicate by any other method besides phone
  • Requests to send money, regardless of the reason
  • Housing is much cheaper than similar housing in the surrounding area
  • Application or showing fees

Who to Contact

If a student is a victim of a housing scam, they should report it to the FTC.

Phone Scams

Unsolicited phone calls requesting personal information, threatening legal action, or payment for services never received are all too common. What’s really scary is that many times, these calls can seem quite legitimate, including the Federal Grant phone scam, which claims students have been awarded a grant, and now they must pay to associated fees. However, there are several ways to make sure personal information is kept safe from these types of scammers.

Red Flags

  • Offers that sound too good to be true
  • Requests for over-the-phone payments
  • Requests for sensitive personal information, especially full name and SSN
  • Spontaneous calls from companies you’ve never heard of or worked with
  • Threats of immediate action by law enforcement

Who to Contact

If a student is contacted by someone claiming to be with the FBI, they can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

Online and Email Scams

With many young adults sharing so much of their lives—including personal details and information—online, it creates a breeding ground for scams. Students can be easily identified as targets and contacted to flush out even more information about themselves. With the proper knowledge and guidance, they can protect themselves from dishonest individuals and offers.

Red Flags

  • Requests for personal information, especially in exchange for free trials or products
  • Requests for payment
  • Entering personal information online in order to complete a survey
  • Unsolicited invitations to “like” pages
  • Requests for login credentials from phony email addresses or websites, especially those posing as the individual’s university or workplace

Who to Contact

Individuals who have fallen for a social media scam should report the incident to the social media site through which the scam was initiated. If a student’s personal student information is compromised, they should also contact the school’s IT department immediately to have their information changed or updated.

Reaching out to let young adults know about these scams and how to protect themselves is an important way to safeguard their financial futures. For more information on how to best serve the students you work with, keep an eye on our ScholarNet Central posts for the best product and industry updates available.

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