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Explore the latest happenings at Kirtland CU and learn about important topics from around the financial world. Here’s your insight! To learn about retirements, investments and financial planning, check out Invested now.

Back to School: Student-Targeted Scams To Look Out For

By K-Staff


You have many responsibilities as a student, such as studying for exams, holding a part-time job, and handling your finances. While you’re doing all this, con artists may also be trying to separate you from your cash. Cybercriminals know students have hectic schedules and may be new to money management, making you an ideal target.

The good news? You can protect your financial and personal information by knowing the most prevalent scam tactics and how to spot them.

1. Fake apartment listings

How it works

You see an online listing for an ideal apartment. The landlord or agent can’t show you the place, but you can secure it immediately if you mail or wire a deposit.  You find out the ad was phony, and your money is gone.

Action to take

Search the internet for the apartment address and any contact names. You may find the legitimate listing for the apartment or learn others have also been scammed. If the condo is local, view it in person. Only send money after first confirming that a listing is legitimate.

Red flags

Beware if the listing sounds too good or if you can’t see it in person. Look for typos in the listing, a vague description, and no formal rental application or tenant screening process.

2. Bogus scholarships and grants

How it works

You receive a call or email that you earned a grant or scholarship, but you must make an up-front payment for processing or related services.  The scholarship or grant money never materializes.

Action to take

Contact your school to confirm the award’s legitimacy and research the organization giving the award. It would be best if you never were required to send money for a scholarship or grant.

Red flags

Be suspicious if you never applied for the grant or scholarship, if you’re told the award is a “sure thing,” if it’s only available for a limited time, or if the awarding organization is a newly formed company.

3. Unpaid tuition claims

How it works

You are called by a “representative” of your college about your tuition payment being late, and you’ll be dropped from all classes unless you pay immediately over the phone.

Action to take

End the call and contact your school’s financial aid office using a verified phone number from the school’s official website or correspondence. Report the incident to your school.

Red flags

These are significant warning signs if your tuition payments are current or the caller pressures you to pay immediately.

4. Employment offer schemes

How it works

A job posting promises excellent benefits such as flexible hours and above-average pay, but you must pay a fee to interview or secure the job. The application may ask for personal information, such as your social security number, which the cybercriminal may use without your knowledge or permission.

Action to take:

Cut off contact with firms asking you to pay an advance fee for a job. If you sent the payment, report the scam to the website where the listing was posted.

Red flags

If you’re told you must pay an application fee, the posting is likely a scam. It’s also a bad sign if the so-called employer makes an offer without asking you to interview.

Exercising caution is the key to protecting yourself from any scam. Don’t be embarrassed to act if you fall victim to these tactics. Reporting the incident will help prevent others from falling for the same scam.

How to react if you suspect you've been targeted

  • Act quickly after an incident, as it can help minimize damages.
  • Change all passwords that may have been compromised.
  • Call the police and file reports with relevant local authorities. Many State Attorney General websites have detailed information on the latest scams and online forms to file a consumer complaint.
  • File reports with the Federal Trade Commission and the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center.
  • Document everything about the incident. The more information you have, the better armed you will be to assist in an investigation by law enforcement officials.
  • Alert your credit union about the scam. Although recovering lost funds may not be possible, your credit union may be able to use the information to warn other members.

Don't Be a Victim!

You need to know about credit union impersonation scams so you can avoid becoming a victim of these nefarious tactics.

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