Back-to-School Financial Scams to Avoid - Student Research Foundation

Don’t Fall Victim to Back-to-School Financial Scams

Your son or daughter gets an email that says, “Save Big Dollars on Your Textbooks!” It comes from a company that purports to be a bookseller. So your kid clicks through, orders textbooks, and feels good about saving money. What could possibly go wrong? Plenty, according to a number of articles that have recently appeared on sites like, and even in newspapers like The Asbury Park Press.

If your kid falls for that scam and orders books, the first sign of trouble could be that the textbooks will never arrive. But even before that, chances are his or her charge or debit card will be charged for all kinds of fraudulent purchases.

It’s apparently just one of the shameful scams that crooks are using this time of year to target college students. Here are some other scams that are being described in all those articles, blogs and websites . . .

  • Fake offers for credit cards – The student gets an email that says, “You need our special college charge card now that you’re starting school.” So your kid fills out an application. It’s another thinly disguised attempt to collect bank account and other information.
  • Fraudulent requests for college fees – Your kid gets an official-looking email from his or her college that offers an opportunity to pay fake student fees. (Some clever scammers are able to find out where kids are going to college and make use of that information to create phishing emails that appear to be genuine.)
  • Fake government grants – Congratulations, the student has just been pre-approved for a government grant, loan or scholarship. All he or she has to do is fill out a fake “application” that asks for bank account info, social security numbers, and other personal information.
  • Fake calls that are not really from the IRS or other government agencies – By now, most everyone is aware that the IRS will never phone anyone to demand a payment of back taxes. But scammers are apparently adapting that scam to target college students and their parents. The spiel could be something like, “To collect your scholarship money, you have to pay your back taxes.” Just hang up – fast.
  • Pleas for help from nonexistent students – The student gets an email that says something like, “My name is Claudia and I need $200 to pay my airfare so I can start school with you next month!” Then – guess what – you or your kid is asked to pay that money using a credit or debit card or to wire money to another state or country. Preying on student’s desire to help other students is really unscrupulous. But don’t expect crooks to have scruples. By definition, they don’t!

All of us at the Student Research Foundation wish all students a safe and pleasant start to the school year!

Be sure to investigate the Student Research Foundation’s Personal Achievement College Scholarship program. Over the last 20 years, we have given away more than $1 million in scholarships nationwide.

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