There are few more exciting times in your life than when you start your post-secondary education. As you stand ready to open the door to your future, the possibilities really are endless and the opportunity can be exhilarating. Unfortunately, there are people out there who are intent on exploiting that enthusiasm through student scams.
New data from the Better Business Bureau shows that millennials are likely to be on the receiving end of student scams. They attribute this to “Optimism Bias”, meaning that millennials feel they are impermeable to scams, whereas their data shows that the opposite is true.
According to the Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker:
- Of the 89 per cent of seniors that reported a scam, only 11 per cent actually lost any money
- Conversely, millennials were three times likely to recognize or report fraudulent activity, and of those that did report, 34 per cent lost money.
Fraud against students presents a unique set of challenges. Students are young and many do not have real-life experiences to alert them to signs of financial fraud,” says Jeff Schwartz, executive director, Consolidated Credit Counseling Services of Canada.
“Unfortunately, the financial implications of being a fraud victim can take years to correct, which can be a huge blow against an individual as they are starting out in their adult lives. That means that when millennials are flocking to campus this year, they’ve got to use self-protective practices when it comes to divulging personal or financial information,” says Schwartz.
Here are a few student scams to be aware of and ideas on how to protect yourself as you start the school year.
When looking for a part-time job
A great way to minimize your student debt is to get a part-time job, but beware of jobs that seem too good to be true. Really be on the lookout if the job is expecting you to do anything without pay- or if you are required to pay for training or other work expenses, you should probably look elsewhere. This is the hook on a cash-chequing scheme.
Who wouldn’t love a scholarship to help pay for all of those expenses around school? The problem is that a number of scholarship scams involve you paying money in order to receive the scholarship. That’s not the way it works. Again, be leery if you need to pay out anything.
The roommate scam
Another great way to save on post-secondary costs is to share them with a roommate. In this common scam, a “roommate” applies to a rental posting, but is usually unable to meet to view the rental in person (they usually say they are studying overseas). They then forward a sum that is an overpayment on the rent and claim that it is for other expenses (i.e. airfare to get to school, etc.). They then ask you to cash the cheque and return the overpayment by wire transfer- which will technically be your money- because the whole thing is bogus.
If in doubt, check it out
No matter what age you are, if something doesn’t feel or look right, it probably isn’t and you should act on your instinct. Don’t be intimidated or be afraid to ask questions. You can always check out current scams through the RCMP or the BBB.
Have you fallen victim to financial fraud and are trying to get your life back together? We can help you get organized to take control of your life again. Call one of our trained credit counsellors at 1-888-294-3130 or visit our free online debt analysis