We live in a world where more and more transactions take place virtually. Applying to colleges is done online, from the application and essay questions to paying deposits and signing up for housing. The search for scholarships is almost completely online. There are more websites than I can count that offer to help me find scholarships if I enter my information into their databases. That’s scary!
How are students my age supposed to weed through everything to know what is legitimate? College applications are just the start. I am constantly receiving emails from various sources, and that’s not going to stop after I start college. I think it will just get worse. Students ages 18-24 are a huge target for scams. According to the 2019 BBB Scam Tracker Risk Report, the greatest risk for my age group is employment. College students may jump at the opportunity to work remotely, earn high pay, and have flexible hours. As tempting as those offers may be, students need to pay attention to avoid falling victim to scams.
How are we supposed to determine what job offers are legitimate and which are scams? How do we know what’s real, what’s honest and what’s not? The first thing students need to do is take a breath and do some research. As a generation that has grown up with the world at our fingertips, we have access to so many resources. Knowing which sites to get advice from is important. Students should talk to their parents and families before making decisions, check the business out on the BBB website, and look for articles and support for the company from reputable sources.
Filling in personal information online is something that my generation often does without thinking. It’s one thing to enter personal information on a trusted, secure site, but if a job offer wants private information up front, it could be a scam. The 2020 Census doesn’t ask for social security numbers, yet there are scams out there that do. Many students, and adults, don’t realize that the IRS will never call or email you, asking you to verify your account by giving personal information. We are so used to doing things virtually, that it doesn’t even cross our minds to stop and think before we click a link that could lead us right into a scam. We don’t even realize what we’re walking into.
Reading through the BBB Report, I am shocked by how susceptible college students are to scams, especially in terms of employment, fake checks, and online purchases. I feel like now it is my responsibility to spread this newfound knowledge to my peers, both at my high school and at the college I attend in the fall. I can educate others about the BBB and how it can be used to prepare and prevent students from falling victim to the numerous scams aimed at our age group. I can be the initial drop, creating a ripple effect that spreads to others around me.