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Scammers Targeting New Graduates

As this year’s college graduates are preparing to have new experiences, moving to a new city, a new place to live, finding a new job, it also often means new financial responsibilities, such as paying back student loans. But as grads navigate these recent life changes, scammers await, eager to take advantage of their inexperience.

BBB provides the following tips to help new grads avoid common scams.

Student Loan Repayment Scams. One of the most common ways scammers target college graduates is with fake loan forgiveness opportunities. Be on the lookout for unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages stating that you can qualify for lowered payments through a debt forgiveness program. Also, be on the lookout for scammers who claim temporary or permanent student loan deferment for a fee.

Understanding the ins and outs of your student loan, what kind of interest you owe, when you need to start paying, and the length of time you’ll be expected to make payments – will protect you from these scams. If you are unsure how the CARES Act affects your student loan, find out on official government websites, such as ed.gov and studentaid.gov.

Bogus Job Scams. A common scam draws in new grads by promoting high-paying jobs for positions that require little effort or experience, such as “virtual assistant” or “customer service representative.” They may ask for your personal information, including your bank account and Social Security number, claiming they need 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 considering a job with a company you’re not familiar with, do some research before completing an application or agreeing to an interview. Please make sure the company has legitimate contact information, and they post it on their corporate website. Scammers often steal the names of actual companies for their phony job postings. Before accepting a position, make sure you conduct a face-to-face interview, either in person or virtually.

Rental Scams. According to a recent survey by Apartment List, 43% of people looking for a rental online have encountered a bogus listing. In many cases, scammers hijack the photo and description of real property. Then, they post it online with their contact information and try to get a deposit and first month’s rent from the victim.

If you are looking to rent a new place, find out how much other rental properties in the area cost before signing a lease. Scammers often lure victims by promising low rents, extra amenities, and a great location. If the price seems much better than offered elsewhere, it may be a scam. Also, tour the apartment or house in person. Never send money to someone you’ve never met for an apartment you haven’t seen. If you can’t visit an apartment or house yourself, ask someone you trust to confirm what they advertised. Finally, read lease agreement documents before you sign. Don’t be embarrassed to consult with friends or family members who may be more knowledgeable on the subject if you have doubts or questions.

To learn more about scams and how to avoid them, visit BBB.org/AvoidScams. For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to bbb.org. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline: 903-581-8373 or notify it via BBB ScamTracker.