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Top 5 Scams Targeting Young Adults and Students

Believe it or not, tech-savvy students and young adults are falling victim to fraud more often than any other age group. According to the FTC, 43% of young adults ages 20-29 lost money in 2017 due to a scam, compared to 15% of people in their 70s.

In fact, young adults can actually be prime targets for scammers. Many young adults are still learning to keep an eye on their financial accounts. Young adults are also often quick to share information online and through social media.

While financial fraud can happen to anyone, knowing the many ways scammers target students and young adults can help you protect yourself or your loved one from becoming a victim. Let's take a look at some of the most common scams targeting students and young adults.

#1: Social Media Phishing

Did you know teens and young adults spend about nine hours each day on social media? Because social media is more popular than ever, scammers are using it as a tool to steal personal or financial information. One common social media scheme is “phishing," which involves scammers sending out private messages posing as a trustworthy source. The scammer convinces their victims to follow a link and enter their login credentials. With the victim's username and password, the scammer may be able to access their personal and financial information.

Young adults may also inadvertently share their personal information when completing seemingly harmless online quizzes or surveys. In reality, the quiz or survey collects information that can be used to hack into the victim's social media accounts and access sensitive information. 

  • ​How to avoid:
    Set social media profiles to private and only connect with people you know personally. Never share personal information online like your address, phone number, Social Security number, driver's license or student I.D..

#2: Scholarship Scams

With the cost of college on the rise, students (and their parents) are falling victim to phony scholarship scams. Scammers behind the fake scholarship application may ask for personal and financial information such as Social Security numbers and financial account information. Sometimes, the scammer may even request a small payment to “process" the scholarship application.

  • How to avoid:
    Scholarship opportunities are everywhere, but any scholarship application that requires an upfront payment should be a red flag. Legitimate scholarships will always be free to apply. Use reliable resources to search for scholarships, and don't respond to solicitations from unfamiliar sources.

 #3: “Instant Cash" Schemes

Get-rich-quick scams are popping up on social media left and right. Using ads on Snapchat, Instagram and other social media platforms, criminals promise unsuspecting victims “instant cash" if they share their financial account details. The criminal launders money through the victim's account and then withdraws the funds. In the end, the victim doesn't get any money, and they could even be held responsible for criminal activity.

  • ​How to avoid:
    Never share your financial account information online or with strangers. Be wary of social media posts promising you'll get rich quick—these are likely a scam!

 #4: Fake Employment Scams

Beware of online work-from-home job offers that promise easy money for light work. The catch is, the employee has to pay up-front for training or a large inventory of products to sell. The money can be hard to get back, and in some cases, the scammers could steal the victim's identity. Young adults looking for seasonal jobs are frequently targeted for these work-at-home employment scams.

  • ​How to avoid:
    Steer clear of any job offers that require you to pay upfront. This is a sign of a pyramid scheme or scam. Like other get-rich-quick schemes, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

 #5: Online Shopping Scams

Another way scammers target young adults is by creating phony online stores offering unbelievably low prices on brand-name goods. In many cases, the victim ends up with a knock-off version of the product they wanted, or the purchased item is never delivered.

  • ​How to avoid:
    When shopping online, only purchase from reputable, secure websites that are verified and licensed to sell. Before buying, be sure to read online reviews and ratings from real customers. 

Don't be fooled by these common student and young adult scams! Wright-Patt​ Credit Union is here to help you protect your personal and financial information and avoid becoming a victim of fraud. We have the tips, tools, and resources you need to keep your money and information safe. For more fraud​ prevention tips, visit WPCU.coop/StopFraud.​