As new college graduates are navigating many life changes, scammers are eager to take advantage of their inexperience.
The Better Business Bureau recently offered a few to help new grads avoid common scams.
Know the terms of your student loans. One of the most common ways scammers target college graduates is with fake loan forgiveness opportunities.
You may receive an unsolicited email, phone call, or text message stating that you can qualify for lowered payments through a debt forgiveness program. To use the company’s services, just fill out a form and pay a fee. Some of these companies are real, but they pitch their services with false claims and incomplete information. Other companies are fakes, only hoping to get their hands on your personal information and money.
Scammers may also contact college grads regarding student loan repayment hiatus in response to COVID-19. See the latest U.S information on loan repayment.
Understanding the ins and outs of your student loan — what kind of interest you owe, when you need to start paying (in most cases you won’t need to make a payment until six months after you’ve graduated) and for how long you’ll be expected to make payments – will protect you from these scams.
Be wary of unsolicited messages about unpaid tuition.
Some con artists contact graduates or their parents claiming some of their tuition was left unpaid. If it isn’t paid immediately, the graduate’s degree will be revoked. Scammers may ask you to send money via wire transfer or prepaid debit cards.
Whether you are contacted by phone, email, or text message, be wary of anyone who contacts you out of the blue. Government agencies, as well as most higher education facilities, will contact you by mail initially. If you aren’t sure if a message is legitimate, do some research to verify the person’s claims. Ask to contact them later. Then, investigate by looking up information on the official website or calling your school’s bursar’s office. Don’t give in to pressure to make a decision right away.
Do research before accepting jobs or job interviews.
Scammers may offer recent graduates high paying, easy, entry-level jobs. Con artists are skilled at drawing new grads in by promoting unrealistic wages for generally labeled job positions, such as “virtual assistant” or “customer service rep.” They may ask for your personal information, including your bank account and Social Security number, claiming they need it to set up direct deposit or file taxes.
In other cases, scammers require you to pay for training. In yet another version, you may be “accidentally” overpaid with a fake check and asked to send back the extra funds.
If you are considering a job with a company you aren’t familiar with, do some research before you complete an application or agree to an interview. Make sure the company has legitimate contact information, and the position is posted on their corporate website. Scammers often steal the names of real companies for their phony job postings.
Share your scam story
Local law enforcement is concerned about the impact of scams on area residents, particularly the elderly.
Consequently, this newspaper works with local police and sheriff’s departments to keep residents updated on common schemes. Scam Alerts will appear in future editions as often as possible in the coming weeks.
Readers can also find online scam updates Thursdays at windomnews.com.
If you have been the target of a scam, your first contact should be local authorities. Also, feel free to contact us with details (we can keep your name confidential).
Send your story to: email@example.com, or call 507-831-3455. By sharing, you could prevent someone from being scammed.
Watch www.windomnews.com for regular weekday updates at 8 a.m./noon/5 p.m., plus BREAKING stories at other times. Follow CoCoCitizen @CitPub on Twitter.