College students beware of scams this back-to-school season, the BBB says

Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 9:52 PM PDT
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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) - With the start of the school year right around the corner for local universities, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning college students of potential scams.

The BBB said there are at least seven scams targeting college students that try to get their personal information. Makayla Six is an incoming senior at Portland State University and she understands why scammers target college students.

“We’re a little more naïve and, we’re less in the know about scams, and more desperate for money,” Six said.

Six has never been a victim of a scam but she said it can be easy to fall from them. The BBB said many of the scams email students to their university given inbox, with a domain name that looks official.

“I don’t look at anything that’s not sent from the school or things that I was expecting,” Six said. “I think that can counteract some of opening an email and being like does this relate to me.”

The BBB said they’re monitoring these six of the seven scams that are being reported to them by college students:

  • Fake credit cards - Offers to apply for the first credit card are tempting to many students. Not only could this create credit problems down the road due to unchecked spending, but some of the deals could be phony offers designed to get access to personal information. Research the offers from the credit card flyers and the banking institutions before applying. Review the BBB tip on credit card scams.
  • Too good to be true apartments - It’s hard not to jump on a convenient apartment so close to campus, especially if it advertises affordable rent. It’s tempting to hand over credit card information online to lock in a great spot, but it’s always worth seeing the apartment in person prior to a money transfer. This also applies to Craigslist and social media ads appearing to be from other students looking for roommates. Read more about rental scams.
  • ID theft -  It’s a good idea to start practicing healthy money habits, and one such habit is regularly checking your credit report for unusual activity and possible ID fraud. The official government website to do this for free is Read BBB’s article on How to know if someone stole your identity.
  • Scholarship and grant scams - Be wary of phone calls from companies guaranteeing they can help reduce loan payments or offer a hefty grant. Searching the company’s name online could bring up scam alerts or negative reviews from other consumers. Read reviews and complaints about the company at and contact the school’s financial aid office for advice and help regarding financing your education. Scholarship scams can affect college students even after graduation; read our tips on scholarship scams.
  • Online shopping scams - Online purchase scams can be especially effective when set up through social media platforms and apps. BBB has tips for smart shopping online and a page dedicated to online shopping tips and scam alerts.
  • Awareness of current scams - As tech-savvy as current college students can be, a surprising number of scams reported to BBB’s ScamTracker are from students who learned their lesson too late. Use BBB’s Scam Tips to learn the latest scam trends and read local reports of specific incidents.

The BBB also said there is an employment scam targeting college students looking into make extra cash. It works where an email is sent to a student with a job offer and says they’re immediately hired. However, they then ask the student to buy pre-paid debit cards and gift cards that would be sent to the employer. In return, they would deposit some of the money into the student’s bank account. But the BBB said it’s a fake offer and the scammer just takes all of the money.

You can totally fall into a scam unfortunately but staying knowledgeable, keeping up with your research, and being knowledgeable of who is sending you things,” Six said. “It’s the best you can do right?”

You can report a scam by visiting the Federal Trade Commission’s website by clicking here.