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New College Grads, Watch Out For These Scams

From the Central Ohio Better Business Bureau

New graduates often transition by moving to a new city, finding a new place to live, or searching for a new job. Graduation additionally introduces new financial responsibilities, such as starting payments on student loans.

“This rite of passage also means they’re a new target for scammers eager to exploit their inexperience in navigating these life changes,” BBB President Judy Dollison said.

The following tips can help new grads avoid common scams.

Know the terms of your student loansOne of the most common ways scammers target college graduates is with fake loan forgiveness opportunities. The new grad may receive an unsolicited email, phone call, or text message stating they can qualify for lowered payments through a debt forgiveness program simply by filling out a form and paying 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 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. Scammers may claim that to take advantage of the program, the student must complete a form or pay a fee. This may not be necessary – students should check facts before giving anyone your information.

Understanding the details of student loans – what kind of interest is owed, payment start dates (often six months after actual graduation), and the duration of payments – protects graduates and their families 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 require money to be sent via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.

Be wary of ANY unsolicited contact  Government agencies, as well as most higher education facilities, will contact students by mail initially. Students unsure of a message should research to verify the person’s claims and ask to contact them later. Then, investigate by looking up information on the official website or calling the institution’s bursar’s office. Don’t give in to pressure to make a decision right away.

Do research before accepting jobs or job interviewsScammers 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 personal information, including bank account and Social Security numbers, claiming they need it to set up direct deposit or file taxes. In other cases, scammers require the victim to pay for training. In yet another version, victims may be “accidentally” overpaid with a fake check and asked to send back the extra funds.

When considering an unfamiliar job, research is key before completing an application or agreeing 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 and AI makes it easier to mimic a website.

For tips for avoiding scams while job hunting, check out BBB’s report on employment scams.

Watch out for rental scamsWhen a new grad finds 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.

New grads looking to rent a home or apartment, should research 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.

Evaluate the apartment or house in person.  New grads may be tempted to send money to someone they’ve never met for an unseen apartment. When a prospective tenant or buyer can’t visit an apartment or house in person, it’s a good idea to ask someone to physically confirm details as advertised.

Grads should thoroughly read lease agreement documents before signing and not be embarrassed to consult with friends or family members who may be more knowledgeable.


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