Milwaukee, Wis. – This year’s college graduates are getting ready to start their new lives! It’s a big transition that includes several important changes. Grads may be moving to a new city, finding a new place to live, or searching for a new job. Graduation also often means new financial responsibilities, such as starting payments on student loans.
College graduates are navigating many life changes, and scammers are eager to exploit their inexperience. The following tips can help new grads avoid common scams.
Know the terms of your student loans
One of the most common ways scammers target college graduates is with fake loan forgiveness opportunities. You may receive an unsolicited email, phone call, or text message stating that you can qualify for lowered payments through a debt forgiveness program. Fill out a form and pay a fee to use the company’s services. Some of these companies are real, but they pitch their services with false claims and incomplete information. Other companies are fakes, only hoping to get their hands on your personal information and money.
Scammers may also contact college grads regarding student loan repayment hiatus in response to COVID-19. See the latest U.S. information on loan repayment. Check Canada’s latest student loan information. Scammers may claim that to take advantage of the program, you must complete a form or pay a fee. You may not need to do this, so check your facts before giving anyone your information.
Understanding the ins and outs of your student loan – what kind of interest you owe, when you need to start paying (in most cases, you won’t need to make a payment until six months after you’ve graduated), and for how long you’ll be expected to make payments – will protect you from these scams.
Be wary of unsolicited messages about unpaid tuition
Some con artists contact graduates or their parents, claiming some of their tuition was left unpaid. The graduate’s degree will be revoked if it isn’t paid immediately. Scammers may ask you to send money via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.
Whether you are contacted by phone, email, or text message, be wary of anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Government agencies, as well as most higher education facilities, will contact you by mail initially. Suppose you aren’t sure if a message is legitimate, research to verify the person’s claims. Ask to contact them later. Then, investigate by looking up information on the official website or calling your school’s bursar’s office. Don’t give in to pressure to make a decision right away.
Do research before accepting jobs or job interviews
Scammers may offer recent graduates high-paying, easy, entry-level jobs. Con artists are skilled at drawing new grads in by promoting unrealistic wages for generally labeled job positions, such as “virtual assistant” or “customer service rep.” They may ask for your personal information, including your bank account and Social Security number, claiming they need it to set up direct deposit or file taxes. In other cases, scammers require you to pay for training. In yet another version, you may be “accidentally” overpaid with a fake check and asked to send back the extra funds.
If you are considering a job with a company you aren’t familiar with, do some research before you complete an application or agree to an interview. Ensure the company has legitimate contact information and the position is posted on their corporate website. Scammers often steal the names of real companies for their phony job postings.
For tips for avoiding scams while job hunting, check out BBB’s report on employment scams.
Watch out for rental scams
Find a gorgeous apartment in a trendy neighborhood at an affordable price. There’s a good chance that it’s a scam. According to a survey by Apartment List, 43% of people looking for a rental online have encountered a bogus listing.
In many cases, scammers copy the photo and description of real property. Then, they post it online with their contact information and try to get a deposit and the first month’s rent from the victim.
If you want to rent a home or apartment, find out how much other rental properties in the area cost before signing a lease. Scammers often lure victims by promising low rents, extra amenities, and a great location. It may be a scam if the price seems much better than elsewhere. Also, be sure to see the apartment or house in person. Don’t send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to go and confirm that it is what was advertised. Finally, read the lease agreement documents before you sign. Don’t be embarrassed to consult with friends or family members who may be more knowledgeable on the subject if you have doubts or questions.
See this BBB investigation for more tips on rental scams.
For more information
Read more about scams targeting current college students.
To learn more about scams and how to avoid them, visit BBB.org/AvoidScams.
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