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Beware of Scams targeting College and Graduate Students

Attorney General Josh Shapiro warns Pennsylvanians to Beware of Scams Targeting College and Graduate Students

In the upcoming weeks, many Pennsylvania college students will be starting a new chapter in their lives.  With this new chapter comes responsibility and the freedom to make choices on their own.  Attorney General Josh Shapiro is warning college students and their parents to be on the lookout for potential scams that are targeting these young adults.

Here are some of the scams to look out for:

  • Student Financial Service Scam: There are many types of scams that pose as legitimate offers for scholarships, grants and financial aid services.  The student is contacted by telephone, mail or email with a great offer but is asked to provide personal information or pay upfront fees in order to proceed.  These fees are usually paid by gift card or money wire.
  • The Unpaid Tuition Scam: The scammer contacts the student or the parents claiming that the tuition bill has been unpaid and that payment needs to be made immediately without affecting the student’s enrollment.  Before you run off and make a payment, call the school’s financial aid office and verify if this is true.  The school would most likely send a paper bill before calling and threatening immediate payment.
  • Online Income Scam: Scammers prey on college students promising them a job online and ways for them to make quick and easy money.  The company will either ask the students for money upfront or send them a check for their work and ask them to send a portion back to the company.
  • Buying Books Online Scam: Scam artists set-up fake websites and offer great deals on expensive textbooks only to never deliver the textbook and leaving the victims out of money as well as not getting the textbook they ordered.
  • Roommate/Rental Scam: The scammers normally pose as an individual selling or renting a property or as a property management business conducting the transaction on behalf of a client who is the alleged owner of the property.  Potential renters are then solicited for money in exchange for promises that the homes will be shown to them or rented to them upon completion of their payment. Then, once the payment is received, the prospective buyer or tenant eventually realizes that there is in fact either no home for sale or that the property is in fact occupied.

These scams can be prevented.  Here are some tips to remember:

  • Be sure to speak with someone from your school before making payments on a supposed unpaid bill or offering information on a loan, grant, scholarship that is being offered.
  • Completing financial aid forms, especially a FASFA form, does not cost anything to fill out.
  • Research thoroughly into any business before providing personal financial information or credit card information. Make sure that the website is a secure website (https://).
  • Do research, talk to friends/family and school officials to learn more about how to be protect yourself or your loved one from a scam.
  • Never give your personal information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue.
  • If you believe you have been a victim of a scam, report it to your local police immediately, contact your bank or credit card company, and file a complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection at https://www.attorneygeneral.gov/submit-a-complaint/scams-complaint/.