With school back in session, emotions are high at the thought of a new year with new friends and new opportunities. There’s one lesson that won’t be taught in the classroom, but it’s an important one to keep in mind as you start the new school year – how to protect yourself against online scammers. If you think scammers only target old individuals with “money,” think again.
There are hundreds of scammers out there that utilize the start of a new school year as an opportunity to take your money. According to FRAUD!ORG, there are three main scams to looks out for.
- The Diploma Scam – If you didn’t receive your high school diploma in the traditional sense, there are some websites that claim to give you your high school equivalent diploma simply by paying a small fee and taking an online test. If someone offers this to you, run. It’s a scam.
- The “Student Tax” Scam – If you receive a phone call “from the IRS” about owed taxes on a student loan, it’s a scam. The IRS will always reach out by mail before any phone call is ever made.
- Scholarship Scams – If a company asks that you cover any fees or taxes associated with a scholarship, they are scamming you out of money. If it’s a third-party scholarship, you should always check to make sure the company is legitimate.
There are simple ways to combat online scammers. The first is to know they exist – don’t be naive and think that everyone is friendly and no one wants to steal your money. You should also always check the credibility of the site you are making a purchase from. If you have any hesitations, check with the Better Business Bureau and see if the site or company has any complaints. When browsing the internet, don’t click on pop-up ads or suspicious links that are embedded in emails, even if you know the person – they might have had their account hacked.