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Five Scams Targeting College Students and How to Avoid Them

Five Scams Targeting College Students and How to Avoid Them

College can be a difficult time financially. You’re trying to make it on your own and have to make every dollar count to ensure that ends meet.

Unfortunately, scammers are aware of the position you are in and see you as an easy target. During your years in college, it’s highly likely that you’ll be targeted by a scam of some kind. You can reduce your risk of being tricked by learning about some of the common scams that target college students and how to avoid them.

Credit Card Scams

If you’re financially secure, your college years can be a great time to build credit. You’ll have to make a few major purchases every semester, and it’ll look great on your credit history when you pay these off in a timely manner.

However, scammers know that college students are looking for lucrative credit card deals and will do anything to take your hard-earned money. You need to remain vigilant during your college years to avoid the most common credit card scams.

As a student, you may think that you have the awareness necessary to detect phishing scams. However, phishing scams are becoming increasingly sophisticated. You might, for example, receive an email from someone posing as the Dean of your college or a professor — only to find out they are actually a scammer.

Slow down whenever you receive any information remotely related to finances. Read the sender’s address, and follow up in person with anyone that you think may have notified you about credit cards or financial deals. Don’t open any suspicious emails and never give your details out if you aren’t entirely confident that you are speaking to a legitimate company.

Credit card scammers will try to take advantage of your precarious financial position by running “overcharging” scams. Overcharging scams occur when you are told that you have been overcharged and are due a rebate. In reality, these scammers just want your card details so they can drain your account. Watch out for any rebates or low-interest-rate offers that don’t relate to your actual spending history. Visit your bank if you’re still unsure, as they can help you identify legitimate deals and offers.

Housing Scams

You’ll view some dodgy-looking apartments and houses during your college years. In addition to black mold and leaky pipes, you need to watch out for half-truths and deceptive information that targets college students.

If you’re searching online, watch out for digital housing scams. Folks will pose as legitimate agents, only so they can collect your personal information and disappear. So, double-check the veracity of any letting agents before arranging viewings or signing papers.

Watch out for misleading photography, too. Letting agents will use anything from fish-eye lenses to low-angle pictures to make a property look more appealing. While this isn’t technically a scam, it can be frustrating when you show up and find that your new home isn’t what you expected. Avoid disappointment by viewing in person and checking the blueprints to get exact measurements and sizes.

Romance Scams

For many, college is a time of romance and relationships. You’ll meet plenty of like-minded folks when you attend college and may want to meet a life partner between your study sessions.

Unfortunately, romance scams are on the rise. The FBI receives as many as 24,000 romance scam complaints a year and “girlfriend gifts” have accounted for losses in excess of $1 billion.

As a student, you may think that you can tell a tinder date from a catfishing attempt. However, scammers are becoming increasingly heartless and sophisticated. As a rule of thumb, don’t give gifts to anyone you haven’t met in person. Even then, monetary gifts are hardly a sure sign of romantic interest.

Instead, take it slow and get to know your potential partner before you start thinking about romantic gifts. Slow down, and be sure that you can trust them and their interests. If you find that they flake on you more often than not, then they may well be a scammer.

Financial Aid Scams

Every college student wants to win a scholarship or earn extra financial aid. College is expensive, and financial gifts can make a real difference to your quality of life. However, scammers around the country offer illegitimate financial aid in the hopes of stealing your cash.

Stick to trusted sources when searching for scholarships. Your college probably has a financial aid portal with scholarships that have been vetted by professionals. Avoid any scholarships that ask for “advanced payments” as you should not have to pay to enter a scholarship drawing. Instead, stick to legitimate sources that offer free entry for financial aid opportunities.


During your college years, you’ll log on to dozens of public computers and surf the web using an array of hotspots and wifi providers. This makes you an easy target for cyber scammers, who know you’re busy working on assignments and may not have the tightest digital security.

Start by blocking spam calls and robocalls. Robocalls and spam change their message frequently and may offer anything from IRS refunds to new cars. As a rule of thumb, you can’t trust an unknown number and should sign up to robocall blockers to reduce your risk of being scammed.

Keep your passwords up to date and avoid the temptation to save passwords on devices that aren’t your own. If Google notifies you about a breach, you should change your passwords ASAP and check your bank account. Acting swiftly can reduce your risk of being scammed and ensure that you keep hold of your well-earned income.


As a college student, scammers believe you are an easy target. Being aware of the most common scams can reduce your risk of being tricked. Even small changes, like following up on email correspondence in person, can reduce your risk of being scammed and ensure that you are able to fully focus on your studies.

SEE ALSO: Should I Buy This? A Guide for Budgeting in College

The Importance of Cybersecurity For College Students

The Importance of Cybersecurity For College Students

As a college student, you likely have a lot on your plate. In addition to working on passing your midterms, memorizing the new syllabus, and determining what you want to do after graduation, you also need to stay vigilant against the threats of cybercriminals. Yes, you may have a full life, but if you aren’t careful and you let a hacker steal your information, then you could face an all-new set of problems.

Since computers are used in just about every facet of student life, we want to set you up for success. So, we have compiled all of the information you need to know about potential scams, the methods that you can use to stay protected, and how to take some of the stress out of cybersecurity.

Dangers Of Cybercrime In Education

Many people believe that hackers spend all of their time focusing on mega-corporations that have millions of dollars and customers to steal from, but that could not be further from the truth. The fact is that cybercriminals are after any data that they can get because all of it can be used for malicious purposes. Social security numbers and banking information can be used to take out fraudulent student loans, while even seemingly innocent information like birth dates and email addresses can be sold on the black market.

Hackers are looking for easy targets and they know that students have too much on their minds to think about cybersecurity, so they often attack educational institutions. Many universities are home to hundreds if not thousands of students, so hackers can get a lot of information at once, and they can cause major havoc.

There is also a lot of cash moving about at universities as students need to pay for classes, books, and food. If a hacker is able to upload a virus to the system, then they could steal a lot of money. That is why students need to keep an eye on their finances. If they notice that their money is gone, then they can notify the administration, and they can try to stop the leakage.

All of these scenarios above explain why the whole education sector is at risk of cybercrime. As a student at a physical or online college, you are not responsible for saving your school, but you can protect your own computers and personal data, so your private information is not put in jeopardy.

Understand Common Scams

The first step to cybersecurity in college is to learn about common scams and how to avoid them. One of the tactics that hackers use the most is the phishing email, which appears to be a legitimate message, but really, it is sent by a criminal, and it includes a link or attachment that if clicked or opened, can unleash a virus onto your computer. The hacker will often pretend to be a person of authority, like a professor or a representative from the school, so you are intimidated to open it. You should be mindful of the possibility of phishing scams and watch for these warning signs:

  • An email that claims to be from a college administrator but comes from a common email address like Yahoo or Gmail.
  • The message is not directed at you but to “sir or madam” or “to whom it may concern.”
  • The subject and body of the message have spelling errors.
  • There is a link or attachment that you were not expecting.

Another major scam that could impact your entire campus is ransomware. That is when a hacker is able to breach the network and lock down the entire school so that administrators cannot access any data until they pay the criminals a fee. As a student, you must prepare for this potential scenario, if only because you may need that locked information for an upcoming class or assignment. To get ahead of the problem, back up your data on an extra device like a thumb drive so you can access it even if the main computers are inaccessible.

Be Smart About Security

It may seem daunting to take on cybersecurity scams, but with the right precautions, you can protect your data and your school work. For instance, you can enable a DDoS shield to help prevent the risk of Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks, which is when a hacker floods your system with internet traffic and essentially prevents you from reaching your systems or completing any work online.

Even if you do not have access or the funds to bring on more complex security measures, you can follow some common sense security steps to protect your data, including using complex passwords and two-factor authentication, which is an additional form of protection like a code sent to your phone or the biometric scan of an eye or fingerprint. You can also buy and enable a virtual private network that will disguise your location and encrypt your data so it cannot be read even if it is stolen.

You might also consider moving your school assignments to the cloud, which is what you are doing when you use online programs like Google Docs and Microsoft Teams. Experts say that using these online platforms can help you to be more productive because they make it easier to collaborate with others, and you can access your data from anywhere, from your dorm to the computer lab. Best of all, many of these cloud companies have their own security teams that will keep an eye on the data you have on their servers, so you don’t have to. It is a nice way to have 24-hour protection.

In the end, the idea of cybersecurity may be daunting at first, but by understanding the risks and taking the proper precautions, you can keep your school data protected so you can focus on passing your classes.


If you are interested in the subject of cybersecurity, you may want to explore finding a role within the industry following your studies. The cybersecurity job market is projected to grow by 31% by 2029 and the average salary, is getting close to touching six figures so prospects are excellent. To find out more, check out Comparitech’s detailed guide on how to get an entry-level job in cybersecurity.

SEE ALSO: How to Benefit From Intuitive-Decision-Making as a Student?