Going Off to School?

August 14, 2017

Summer fun is officially over. Mississippians across the state are gearing up for their children to go back to school. Whether it’s going to be the first day of kindergarten or the last first day of high school, parents across the state are freshening up the uniforms and buying the “first day of school” outfits. If you’ve already crossed those unforgettable milestones, you may be picking out dorm room décor for your first-time college student.

Hundreds of Mississippi millennials will be flooding college campuses in the latter part of this month and so will scammers coming to ruin the exciting moment for them. Over the past few years, the millennial generation has become the most targeted age group. From oversharing on social media to buying items from any online websites, millennials have made it easy to be taken advantage of. Not to mention adding the element of being away from home for the first time, scams have now become tailored to directly target them. “Being a first-year college student is a huge milestone, so don’t let careless mistakes ruin it. Talk to your college student about being mindful of the people they meet and what they post on social media because it can be used against them,” says Kourtney Moncure, PR Specialist Better Business Bureau serving Mississippi.

Before those final farewells are given, take some time to talk to your first-year student about the scams below so that they can be prepared and 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 (overpayment scam). 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’s important to build credit, it’s 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 with bbb.org.
  • Scholarship/Grants – Scholarship-finding services “guarantee” grants or scholarships. They sell lists to students on potential scholarship or grant opportunities. However, nearly all available financial aid comes from the federal government or from individual colleges. Go to grants.gov 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 don’t know!
  • Online Shopping Deals You see a much-wanted item for a steep discount online. 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. Also make sure you have the company’s address, and double check it to make sure the address exists (and isn’t a rented drop box).