Published: March 8, 2018

Scammers are well aware that college students, who are often young and strapped for cash, tend to be good targets. Here is a list of the most common scams that catch students every year, courtesy of the CU Boulder Police Department.

Tips for avoiding scams

The FBI offers the following tips to protect yourself from these types of scams:

  • Be cautious if an online/email job posting claims “no experience necessary” and includes exaggerated claims of possible earnings or profits.
  • Beware when money is required up front for instructions or products.
  • Do not give your Social Security number when first interacting with your prospective employer.

The best rule to follow is the old adage: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

The employment scam

In this scam, students receive a job advertisement, oftentimes in their school email account, about administrative job opportunities. After being hired, the student is sent a counterfeit check that they are instructed to deposit in their bank account. They are then told to use those funds to pay for equipment that is necessary for the job. By the time the bank discovers the check you received was fake, you have already paid for the equipment, which never arrives.

The IRS scam

Callers claim to be IRS employees, using fake names and bogus IRS identification badge numbers. They may know a lot about their targets, and they usually alter the caller ID to make it look like the IRS is calling. 

The potential victims are told they owe money to the IRS and it must be paid promptly through a gift card or wire transfer. They may be threatened with arrest. Or, potential victims may be told they have a refund due to try to trick them into sharing private information. If the phone isn't answered, the scammers often leave an “urgent” callback request.

The online dating scam

You meet someone on an online dating site and begin to chat on the phone, by text and then by video. At some point during the video chat, they convince you to undress. After recording you in a compromising situation, they threaten to share the video with all of your friends on social media unless you pay them a large amount of money.