The first few days of the school year is indeed a busy time for students. Whether it's the first day of their freshman, or senior year, students are caught up with solidifying class schedules, ensuring course credits are in order, and shopping for course materials. This time, however, students should also increase their awareness on scams as there a plenty of opportunities for these schemes to take place.
There are three different schemes scammers will use according to the BBB: the Federal Tax Scheme, Free Government Grant Scheme, and Scholarship Scheme. These scams are carried out by e-mail or a phone call, having the same motive of stealing money and personal information from college students.
Federal Student Tax Scheme
Executed a similar way as the fake IRS calls: a scammer calls the victim, claiming he/she is in trouble with the government and owes a considerable amount of debt. The only difference with this scam is the caller will convince the victim a Federal Student Tax is due immediately and payable with some form of payment. There is no such thing as a Federal Student Tax.
Another way this scam carried out is the caller claims to be a part of the FBI and threatens the student to pay any outstanding debt, parking tickets or delinquent taxes. The intent of the scam is the same— to pressure the victim for money or obtain any personal information.
False Government Grant
Students are told that they are recipients of a grant to put towards education costs. To make the deal irresistible, the scammer tells the students they don’t have to pay it back. However, the only way the money can be claimed is if the students agree to cover a processing fee or any other fines that are not associated with a grant. Unless a student actively pursues a grant application through an established institution, they won’t be contacted by a government agency claiming to give them a free grant.
College expenses increase each year and students are looking for the best possible way to manage costs. Scammers have found a way to create fraudulent forms, websites and marketing materials claiming to have way to finance the cost of higher education at a minimal to no cost. Sources such as finaid.org state that many scams encourage applicants to send money upfront for the scholarship but provide little to nothing in exchange.
When the applicant believes they didn’t get the grant, they’ll accept the loss of money and assume it’s a normal step of the process. But the most integral part of the process is that the fraudster behind the scholarship scheme now has the student’s information and cash that was paid to complete the bogus form. Sending in money to complete a scholarship is not typical and any student asked to do so should be wary.
Being a in college is not easy or simple, amidst exams, labs, homework and classes, the last thing anyone would want is the stress of losing money or recover from identity theft. Stay vigilant and do research before agreeing to any seemingly suspicious offers.