BBB Warns: Top Scams for College Students to Avoid

Watch out for these scams targeted at college students!
August 02, 2016

Going to college, or back to college, should be one of the best times in a person’s life. But scammers want to take advantage of college students and we want to stop them!

Here are several scams targeted at those attending college and our advice on how to avoid them.

Roommate/Rental scheme - If you post an ad for a roommate on Craigslist, beware of “fake roommates” who are out of the country, but can provide the rent upfront in the form of a money order. When you receive it, the amount is higher than the amount requested. You are asked to cash it, and wire back the rest. This is a scam!

Credit Cards - Credit card offers are all over campus. While it is important to build credit, it is more important to maintain good credit. Many of these cards have annual fees or charge high interest rates on purchases. Shop around for the best rate and pay off your credit card bills every month.

Employment – Beware of ads that pop up near campus offering jobs with “no experience necessary.” Often, these “opportunities” are bogus! If you are interviewed in a hotel lobby or required to sign a contract, or have to pay for everything, including training, travel, lodging, food, etc. associated with the job, forget it! Check out a company first at

Scholarship/Grants - Scholarship-finding services “guarantee” grants or scholarships. They sell lists to students of potential scholarship or grant opportunities. However, nearly all available financial aid comes from the federal government or from individual colleges. Go to for more information.

Safeguard Your ID – Keep your personal information, including your driver’s license, student ID, debit cards, credit cards, and bank information in a SAFE place. Be wary of any online solicitations, emails, social media sites, or phone calls asking for your personal information. NEVER give out personal information to someone you do not know.

Online Shopping Deals - You see a much-wanted item for a steep discount online. One you could not usually afford. The catch? The site asks you to wire payment to them instead of using a credit card – a huge red flag. Once the money is sent, the item is never received.

Trial Offers – From fitness club memberships to magazine subscriptions to acne medicine, diet pills, or free DVDs and CDs, know how much these products and services are going to cost you once the “Free Trial Offer” expires.

Cheating Supplies – Students can find term papers and test questions and answers, but universities are increasingly using new software like Turnitin, fake websites, and spy cam­eras to track down dishonest students. Don’t cheat yourself out of learning!

Illegal Downloads – It may be tempting to save money by downloading free music, movies, or textbooks, but many contain spyware that can end up causing financial havoc.

Locksmith Scams – College students are prone to locking themselves out of their homes or cars. If this happens to you, you probably will use your cell phone or the local yellow pages to find a nearby locksmith. Problem is, some disreputable locksmiths will post bogus ad­dresses in their yellow page ads to make them appear local, when they’re not.

For more information on these types of scams or to find companies you can trust, please visit