Beware of the Fake Check Scam Targeting College Students

Authored By: Community Financial Credit Union on 2/4/2020
Making the transition from high school to college isn’t easy. Unfortunately, scammers are making it even more challenging. In fact, there’s recently been an uptick in fake check scams targeting new college students. Don’t be the next victim! Here’s how you can recognize a fake check scam.

How does the scam play out? There are several variations of the fake check scam, but all of them ultimately lead to the victim cashing an extra-high fake check and returning the difference to the scammer.

In one scenario, the scammer will send a check to a potential new roommate to secure the “renter’s” spot in the room. The check will be made out for more than the requested holding deposit. The victim will be asked to cash the check and return the extra funds to the “renter.” Unfortunately, the check won’t clear and the victim will never see that money again.

In another variation, a college student is offered a remote position working for an alleged business. The student will receive a check to use for purchasing supplies or to cash as their paycheck. Here, too, the check will be made out for more money than necessary, and the victim will be instructed to send back the difference to the scammer.

In yet a third variation of this scam, students will receive phone calls from companies promising to lower their student loan payments. After applying for this “service,” the student will be sent an extra-large check. The rest of the scam will follow the same script described above.

How can I spot a fake check scam?

Look out for these red flags which indicate a potential scam:

  • 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. 
  • 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 meet face-to-face. Always be wary of anyone offering you more money than you’re expecting. Stay safe out there! 

Your Turn: Have you been targeted by a fake check scam? Tell us about your experience in the comments.

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