Here are some of the common examples:
Scholarship and financial aid scams
The scammer offers students scholarships or financial aid awards, asking for personal and financial information and often a small application fee. Some involve scholarship seminars that turn into high-pressure sales pitches. These scams often sound too good to be true, which is a red flag.
These scams offer employment or a “side hustle” to make quick and easy cash. Scammers will pose as an organization such as modeling, talent, or mystery shopper agencies. These scams will obtain financial information or collect a fee with the promise of increasing your earning power.
Overpayment and person to person payment scams
A fraudster poses as a buyer or employer and sends a check for goods or services in an incorrect amount. They will acknowledge the “mistake” and ask for a refund of overpayment, either through a check or money transfer service. The victim will send the money only to find out that the check is fraudulent. Another side to this scam is when a seller offers a product and demands a person to person payment before receiving the item. Victims will never receive the item and cannot reverse the payment.
Online marketplace scams
Similar to the scam above, sellers will post a non-existing item and demand payment before receiving the item, or buyers will overpay for a product and ask for a refund for overpayment. Another goal of these scams is to gain enough personal information to scam another person. The scammer will ask to move the conversation to another platform, often to text, and asks for a verification code to “prove you’re human.” Then, they’ll use that to set up accounts to scam others into believing they are legitimate.
Scams related to federal student loan debt relief
These scams will promise debt relief if you sign up for their service or pay a fee to “negotiate” with your loan administrator. The U.S. Department of Education federal programs will not ask for a fee to complete any forgiveness paperwork. Stick with a student loan website operated by the federal government and refrain from giving out your personal loan information, especially your student aid ID or password.
How to help protect yourself from scams
Familiarizing yourself with common scams can help you see them coming. You can learn a few skills to help you identify and guard against scams.
Consider the following tips before engaging in a potential suspicious or abnormal situation:
1. Be careful when sending money
It’s important to verify who the recipient is before sending money, as you might not be able to get your money back if accidentally sent to the wrong person. Always confirm the recipient is who they say they are before you send money.
2. Know who you’re talking to
Never offer personal or account information to someone who calls you directly, even if they say they’re from your bank. You can call the number on the back of your bank card or account statement to investigate.
3. Take a moment
Scammers will try to make the situation sound urgent, so you’ll give them what they want before you realize what’s happening. If you’re told to take action right away, it could be a scam. Think about what they’re asking for, and verify that they are who they say they are before taking action.
Trust your gut when something seems a bit fishy. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Exercising caution in these cases — an extra few minutes to verify and cross-check information before committing your financial information or money — could save you from becoming a scam victim.