It’s College Test Prep Time: Don’t Get Fooled by a Scammer

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college student studying
Don't be fooled by a college test prep scammer looking for credit card information by phone or email.
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Disclaimer: The below is solely intended for informational purposes and in no way constitutes legal advice or specific recommendations.

If you’re the parent of a college-bound student, you probably know that SAT and ACT season is just around the corner. If you can afford to do so, you may want to give your child every advantage for these pre-college exams by signing them up for a tutoring or preparation course.

Unfortunately, scammers are very aware of the market for college test prep courses, and may try to target parents in your shoes.

What Do PSAT & SAT Prep Scams Look Like?

Right now, registration is just opening up for the first national SAT and ACT testing dates of the year. Fraudsters often use this opportunity to pose as The College Board and send out emails or phone calls regarding test prep workbooks for your student. They ask you to send over your credit card information, claiming that your student had requested the materials. The communications may seem legitimate and reference your child’s name or email address. However, once the scammers have your information, you likely won’t receive anything but fraudulent credit card charges and/or identity theft.

Scamicide.com notes that the real College Board will never ask for credit card or banking information over the phone or through email. Should someone contact you claiming to be from The College Board, it’s wise not to give out any information to that person. Instead, you may want to contact The College Board yourself to discuss matters related to your child’s college testing.

If you receive a message from a third-party company offering college test prep materials or tutoring, be sure to do your research on a company. Read reviews and confirm that it’s a legitimate company before you hand over your credit card information.

Other Pre-College Scams to Watch Out For

Test prep scams aren’t the only schemes that target rising college students and their parents. Here are a few others to look out for.

  • Fake credit card offers. Credit card companies often send current and soon-to-be college students card offers in the mail. Scam artists have picked up on this, and they might join the junk mail brigade, or send out emails to your student. They’ll typically ask for sensitive information like bank account info, birthdates, and social security numbers to “set up” a credit account.
  • Fraudulent FAFSA fees. Scammers know that students (and their parents) often apply for student loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to pay for college. If you or your teen gets an email or letter requesting an upfront fee to apply for these federal loans, ignore or better yet, report it. Although “free” is in the name, many people only know about this student aid program by its acronym and don’t realize that there are no fees to apply. Go to the official website www.fafsa.ed.gov to apply safely and securely.
  • Student housing rental scams. Housing scams aren’t new, and they’re common on forum-like community boards where apartments for rent are advertised. If your student has opted not to stay in a campus dorm and wants to rent a room or an apartment, be on the lookout for ads that seem too good to be true, especially on sites like Craigslist. It’s best to see the place and meet the landlord in person before you pay any application fees or put down a deposit.

Getting ready for college is an exciting time, and in the excitement, it’s easy to miss signs that a scammer could be targeting you. Your child’s college education is a big investment, so it’s important to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable organization before paying someone for college supplies or preparation materials.

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