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Scams that affect students


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Too good to be true - it probably is!

The definition of a scam is a crafty scheme aimed at conning you out of your cash. People who perpetrate scams are known as scammers. Scammers are becoming ever more sophisticated in the methods they use to extract cash from their victims, so you need to be alert for suspicious offers, particularly if they seem to good to be true. They usually are!

Laptop computers for sale

In this scam, students are approached and offered a laptop for sale at a very low price providing they pay by cash. Once the laptop has been paid for, the victim is given a laptop in a bag. When the victim gets home and opens the bag to examine his or her latest bargain purchase, imagine the horror when they find that the bag actually contains a plank of wood (or similar) the same size as a laptop.

Bank account scams

You may receive official-looking emails, letters or faxes asking for help to access funds left by a deceased relative or urging the recipient to email their bank details. You can often tell that these are fake because they are written using poor English grammar. Delete these emails immediately, no matter how likely they sound, and NEVER email back with your bank account details.

Another version of this fraud is that the targets are promised a huge return on a deal worth millions if they part with an up front advance fee which is said to be used for transfer fees and/or admin fees, to facilitate the transfer of the funds to the target’s victim’s bank account. DON'T DO IT!

Phishing for information on the internet

This is simply where fraudsters send a spoof message from a fake bank website and ask you to reply and provide your logon name, PIN and password. It can also be done by telephone. Remember that a bank or building society would never ask for this information. Ebay and Paypal accounts can also be the subject of phishing frauds.

Identity theft

Identity theft refers to taking over your identity with intent to use it for fraudulent activities. Identity theft always begins with information theft, where a fraudster steals information that will help him or her to take over your identity. Once you identity has been ‘taken over’ fraudsters can use your identity to take over accounts/open new accounts and obtain money fraudulently.

The key to preventing identity theft is to make sure that the fraudsters cannot obtain personal information about you. For example, you need to make sure that you do not put confidential information such as old bills or bank statements in the dustbin. Fraudsters often target dustbins. Use shredders to dispose of confidential information, or burn them (outside of course).

Protect your PIN number

You may have a number of PINs that give access to your bank account or credit card account. You should never give your PIN to anyone. Frausters often try to obtain your PIN by phoning you, pretending they are from your bank or the police. But neither your bank or the police would ever ask for this information.

If you discover that another person has accessed your bank account without your permission, report this immediately to your bank. They will immediately stop any further transactions. You should also report it to the police.

Other scams to watch out for

This article has mentioned a few of the more common scams, but there are very many more out there. Here are a few others:

* Work-from-hom scams - dodgy work at home schemes that cost you money to set up and earn you nothing.

* Career opportunity scams - become an author, model or inventor by taking a very expensive course that will give you nothing in return.

* Cheque overpayment scams - this could be in response to your small add or online auction item. The fraudster overpays by cheque and asks you to refund the difference. When you pay in the cheque, you find that it is counterfeit.

* Pay-in-advance credit offers - these offers say that you have been 're-qualified' to receive a loan at a very low APR. However, they often request a huge admin fee to enable the offer.

* Weight loss scheme scams - offer you expensive pills to make you lose weight (that don't work).

* Psychic or clairvoyant scams - suggest that you are lined up for a huge windfall if you pay a monthly fee to the psychic to smooth the way.

* Foreign lottery scams - suggest that you have won a huge amount, but to claim the prize you need to pay an administration fee - I don't think so!

* Online dating scams - fraudsters pose as people looking for love and romance, but secretly, all they want is your cash.

* Miracle cure scams - offers pills or tablets that can cure a multitude of diseases. Of course, these pills are often completely useless.

* Premium rate phone number scams - these work by getting you to ring a premium rate number, with the promise of a fantastic prize that may never materialise. The scammers encourage you to stay on the phone as long as possible to they can make more money from you.

* Doorstep selling scams - fraudsters use pressure selling techniques to promote unfair contracts, substandard goods, overpriced home maintenance or improvements, false consumer surveys and phoney charity collections.

* Debt consolidation scams - some disreputable companies offer debt consolidation loans at enormous APRs.

* Pyramid selling, trading schemes and chain gifting schemes - there are a number of forms of this type of fraud, such as false trading schemes, chain letters, mailing lists or money making 'clubs'. The aim of them all is to separate you from your money by offering the chance to make large amounts of money quickly (something all students would like to do).

Report suspected scams

If you suspect that you have been the victim of a scam, always report it to the police. They will be able to investigate on your behalf, and warn others.


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