Fake check scams targeting college students

Security | 11/18/19
Hand with check on table

Beware the fake check scam targeting college students.

There’s recently been an uptick in fake check scams targeting college students. Here’s how you can recognize a fake check scam and take steps to keep yourself safe.

How does the scam play out?

There are several scenarios, but all of them ultimately lead to you owing money to your financial institution.

Scenario 1:

  • You post an ad for a roommate. A scammer responding to your ad sends you a check for his/her portion of the deposit.
  • The check is for an amount that is greater than the required deposit.
  • The scammer asks you to deposit the check in your account and send the “extra funds” back.
  • The check will return, and YOU will owe your financial institution the entire amount of the bad check plus fees.

Scenario 2:

  • You are offered a remote position.
  • The “company” sends you a check for your paycheck or to purchase supplies.
  • The check will be made out for more money than necessary, and you will be instructed to send back the difference to the company.
  • Again, the check will return, and you will owe your financial institution the entire amount of the bad check plus fees.

Scenario 3:

  • You receive phone calls or messages from companies promising to lower your student loan payments or offering you a grant for tuition.
  • After applying for this “service,” you will be sent an extra-large check.
  • Guess what? Same result—you will owe your financial institution the entire amount of the check plus fees.

Along with being out a potentially large sum of money, a fake check scam could negatively impact your credit history, making it difficult for you to borrow money in the future.

How can I spot a fake check scam?

Watch out for these red flags:

  • You’re asked to cash a check that is made out for more money than necessary and to return the difference to the sender.
  • The alleged roommate, employer or loan company insists on paying you via check only.
  • The alleged employer or company asks for your username/password to your online account.
  • You cannot find any information online about your potential new roommate, employer or loan company.
  • The alleged roommate, employer or contact from the loan company refuses to answer any of your questions about his or her location and refuses to meet face to face.
  • It sounds too good to be true!

If you suspect a scam, cut off all contact with the scammer and report it to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov and to the Better Business Bureau at bbb.org.

It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your credit. You can monitor your credit by requesting your annual complimentary credit report from AnnualCreditReport.com. Review your monthly credit card statements as well and check for suspicious activity on your accounts.

Use the Card Control by Ascend app to enable or disable your Ascend debit or credit card at the touch of a button. Download the app now from your favorite app store. Also, visit https://ascend.org/consumer-accounts/checking to learn more about identity theft monitoring and resolution offered with Ascend’s Preferred checking account.

Sources:

https://abc7chicago.com/fake-check-scam-on-the-rise-and-targeting-young-people/4156583/
https://whnt.com/2019/08/24/scams-targeting-college-students-on-the-rise
https://www.affordablecollegesonline.org/college-resource-center/scams/
https://ascend.org/consumer-accounts/checking

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