BBB: Scam alert for college students heading back to school

The Better Business Bureau is warning students and parents or guardians of potential scams targeting them.

"In addition to the fact that young adults take the longest to detect identity theft, there is a lot of opportunity for scammers to target students as they prepare for class," said Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western Pennsylvania.

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The BBB offers these tips to avoid falling for these scams:

Financial Aid Scams: These scams can include scholarships, financial aid and seminars. A request for some kind of payment up front for a scholarship or student loan is a sign of a scam. Investigate any potential services or consolidation companies by visiting or calling 877-267-5222. They also recommend visiting the U.S. Department of Education's website for information.

Online Income Scams: These scams are intended to target students who are unemployed with a quick and easy way to make money. Always research the company's name and website before participating in these opportunities. Things to consider are how long the company has been in business and any former complaints it has received.

Roommate/Rental Scams: In these scams, students are targeted by posts on Craigslist from others looking for a roommate. The BBB suggests to always confirm exactly who you are dealing with by asking for their name, street address and telephone number. Never wire money back to somebody even if it seems like it was a mistake. Also, avoid accepting payments for more than the agreed price and never assume that a check is legitimate.

Online Shopping Scams: Since many students shop online for convenience, these scammers are targeting students by selling highly wanted items at a large discounted price. Different online companies are also offering trial offers that may end up charging you in the long run. Before purchasing any merchandise online, make sure the URL link starts with https and look for a small lock icon in the corner of the URL bar. And always confirm the business to check for legitimacy and try contacting them to verify.

For additional back-to-school tips to avoid being a victim of these scams, visit the Better Business Bureau website at and report any scams to the BBB scam tracker to help prevent others from falling for these scams.

Information provided by the Better Business Bureau.

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