How to avoid fraud as a student

Sebastian Trujillo, a senior studying biology, experienced credit card fraud. He had no debt, yet he noticed oddities in his credit score.

“Fraud is annoying,” Trujillo said. “I noticed that my credit score was plummeting and I didn’t know what was going on because I’ve always paid everything on time and I don’t have debt.”

Trujillo had two unaccounted credit cards, totaling $3,000 in debt. It took him two years to get everything figured out. Now, Trujillo constantly changes his passwords and checks his credit score to make sure his credit is safe.

A lot of BYU-Idaho students experience fraud or scams on a daily basis.

“I probably get at least one scam phone call a day and that’s on a good day,” said Savannah Corallo, a sophomore majoring in International Studies.

According to the Better Business Bureau risk report, students ages 18 to 24 tend to be more susceptible to scams than non-students. Young adults are more likely to fall for online scams than older adults.

“Fraudsters seem to target the college students because they are more naive,” said Gary Hagen, Captain of the Rexburg Police Department.

According to Hagen, job offers through school or personal email is a common fraud on campus, as well as having people send money through iTunes cards.

“A big scam we’ve been seeing right now is that they’re trying to get students to pay in iTunes cards,” Hagen said. “Scammers will call and say they sent you $600 more than we were supposed to.”

The scammers will ask the victim to buy iTunes cards and give them the numbers on the cards. At that point, the money is gone and police say there is little they can do to recover the funds.

Dating apps are another way people have gotten caught up in scams. Hagen said that many times, men will begin conversing with a “pretty girl” after meeting them online. The conversation turns sexual, then the scammer starts requesting to exchange nude photos and videos.

“Next thing you know, the scammers will threaten to post the video or pictures on Facebook with their name attached to it so their family will see unless they give them a certain sum of money,” Hagen said. “And a lot of students pay because they don’t want to get kicked out of school, their spouse to find out, or have their family and friends finding it and seeing it.”

Hagen gives a few recommendations on how to take some extra precautions and avoid scams and frauds.

“Avoid any online advertisements, don’t give any personal information out, and I would meet in person for job interviews,” Hagen said. “If it looks too good to be true, it probably is.”

According to the Federal Trade Commission, here are some ways to avoid fraud:

  • Do online searches for companies that may have contacted you.
  • Don’t believe your caller ID, technology makes it easy for scammers to fake caller ID information, so the name and number you see aren’t always real.
  • Don’t give out personal information to people.

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