Voice of the consumer: Scams targeting college students

Jenna Middaugh
Jenna Middaugh(KKTV)
Published: Sep. 28, 2020 at 5:42 AM MDT
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Our 11 News Call For Action team pens a weekly column for our news partner The Gazette. Previous columns can be found here.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - Scammers are continuing to take advantage of people during the coronavirus pandemic. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recently put out a warning about a scam specifically targeting college students looking for a job as they head back to school.

As part of the scam, the BBB says a student will get an email to his or her school email address from what appears to be the school’s job placement office, student services department or even a specific professor. The email encourages the student to apply for a job that sounds easy, has flexible hours and great pay. Often, the student will be hired without doing an interview.

According to the BBB, once the student replies to the email to accept the job, a check is mailed to them with instructions to deposit it. The student is then told to buy gift cards, money orders, prepaid debit cards or other supplies needed for the new “job.” The scammers will then tell the student to mail them what he or she bought. Sometimes, the student will be able to keep the remainder of the money as payment.

However, there’s no actual money that the student gets to keep because the check is fake. The scammer makes off with whatever was sent and also has the student’s personal information to go along with it.

There are other common scams college students need to be aware of as well. The BBB says scammers often target students to apply for fake credit cards, phony apartments, and fraudulent scholarships and grants.

If you have children or grandchildren who are in college, make sure to tell them about these scams. Data from the Federal Trade Commission shows that younger people are more likely to lose money to fraud compared to older consumers. According to the BBB’s most recent Scam Tracker Risk Report, 41.6% of students reported a loss when exposed to a scam, whereas only 28.3% of people who are not students lost money.

While this scam specifically targets students, employment scams are very common. If a job offer, or really any type of offer, sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Never send gift cards, money orders, cash, checks, wire transfers or prepaid debit cards to someone you don’t know or haven’t met. Real employers will never ask you to pay them to get a job.

The BBB recommends people of all ages do their research before responding to a job offer they did not apply for. Look up reviews for that specific company, and verify that it has a professional website and legitimate contact information. A few other red flags to look out for include emails with typos or grammatical errors and being paid for work you haven’t done yet.

You can report a scam to the BBB and see what scams have been flagged in your area by visiting: Remember, you can also report scams, fraud and price gouging to the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The consumer hotline number is 800-222-4444.

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