There are many types of fraud and scams you will come across in your life. As a student, you may be more exposed to certain tactics. The best defense against fraud is to be knowledgeable and aware of these situations. Here’s a brief rundown of the more common situations you may encounter as a student.

Types of Fraud:

Phishing
This is one of the most common types of scams you will come across. Scammers will pose as a financial institution and will send a fairly legitimate looking email asking you to disclose personal or financial information. The email may mention that there has been a security breach or it simply needs to verify your information. At this point, the scammer will ask you to click on a link and proceed from there.

Tips:

  • Banks and governments will never ask for your personal information through email
  • If you are unsure of the legitimacy, be on the lookout for bizarre links or email addresses
  • Do not reply to or open links from a suspected scammer

Pyramid Schemes
Believe it or not, pyramid schemes still exist in this day and age. As a student, you may be able to identify these scams as job postings that “could earn you hundreds of dollars a day!” and you will be asked to sell a product or service. You will then be required to pay a membership fee to cover the cost of the product you’re selling. The only way you can recoup these costs is to sell the product to others.

Tips:

  • Conduct a thorough research of the company
  • Be wary of companies that offer compensation for recruiting new salespeople
  • Do not commit to anything at high-pressure meetings or seminars

Prize schemes
That contest you never entered just called and offered you a trip to the Caribbean! Must be legitimate, right? It’s not. This tactic is similar to phishing but information is obtained through the phone instead. The scammer will ask for personal or financial details in order for you to claim your prize.

Tips:

  • Legitimate lotteries and contests do not require you to pay a fee to collect winnings
  • You cannot win a contest you did not enter
  • Do not call or text the scammers to follow-up. You could be charged up to $5 per minute/text!

Service scams
This type of scam may appear to be the most legitimate of all the ones we have mentioned so far. The scammer will ask you to purchase or upgrade a home service. You can encounter this scam in the form of a door-to-door “salesperson.” Most commonly, they will ask to see your water heater bill or to perform a routine checkup of your heater.  Alternatively, you may get a phone call from a computer technician who claims they noticed a virus on your computer. They may ask you to buy antivirus software or even worse, try to gain remote access to your computer.

Tips:

  • Do not discuss your services with a salesperson that represents a different service provider
  • Do not be fooled into letting the solicitors into your home because of “recent regulatory changes”

General Tips

  • Share your personal information only with companies you know and trust.
  • Do not provide personal information to solicitors who made the initial contact.
  • Check your credit report once a year.
  • If it sounds too good to be true then it probably is!
  • Old statements, bills and cards should be shredded before you dispose of them
  • Don’t be pressured by offers that are “available for a limited time only!”
  • If you believe you’ve been a victim of fraud, check out the Competitions Bureau’s Little Black Book of Scam