Back to School Scams and Tips for the University Set

August 11, 2016


Vancouver, BC – September draws near and while parents are getting the little ones prepared for another exciting year, it’s also time for big kids to gear up for another semester at post-secondary institutions.

“A very recent study finds scam victims are not just the elderly and immigrants,” says Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor for BBB serving Mainland BC. “Young people and millennials, those you might think are savvy about scams, are just as likely to lose money as well.”

Here are some scams to be wary of as you head back to campus:

  • 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.
  • Employment – Beware of ads that pop up near campus offering jobs with “no experience necessary.” Often, these “opportunities” are bogus. They could be another cheque cashing scheme. If you are interviewed at all or in a hotel lobby and have to pay for everything, including training, travel, lodging, food, etc. associated with the job, forget it! Check out a company first at If you didn’t get an interview…you didn’t get a job.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Here are a few other ploys to watch out for:

  • Credit Cards - 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.
  • Trial Offers – From fitness club memberships to magazine subscriptions to acne medicine, diet pills, or free DVDs and CDs and downloads, know how much these products and services are going to cost you once the “Free Trial Offer” expires. Always read the fine print and don’t get roped into something you don’t want or can’t afford.
  • 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.
  • SIN - Do not carry your Social Insurance Number around with you. Keep it locked in a safe place at home. If your school requires your SIN, ask plenty of questions. How is the information stored? Who has access to it? What is it being used for?



Media Contacts:

Evan Kelly, Senior Communications Advisor
BBB Serving Mainland BC
Phone: 604-488-8702
Mobile: 604-505-2307
404-788 Beatty Street
Vancouver, BC
V6B 2M1

About BBB:

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses and brands they can trust. In 2015, people turned to BBB more than 165 million times for BBB Business Reviews, all available for free at BBB Serving Mainland B.C., founded in 1939 and serving the Lower Mainland, Thompson-Okanagan, Northern, Central and Southern Interior BC, and the Yukon, is one of 111 local, independent BBBs across North America. In 2015, consumers turned to BBB Serving Mainland B.C. more than 2 million times for Business Reviews and processed 7,500 complaints.