If you're in college or university, you're likely experiencing a lot of life milestones. Maybe you're living away from home for the first time, or managing your own finances for the first time. All those firsts can be exciting. But amid these opportunities to gain new skills and independence, you might also find yourself the target for fraudsters.

How to spot 3 common student scams

Fake apartment rentals

Moving closer to campus? Rental scams targeted towards students heat up at the end of the summer. Some scammers post a listing for a place that isn’t for rent, or doesn’t exist, and try to lure you in with the promise of low rent and great amenities.

One of the top red flags to watch for when you’re looking for a new place to rent are below-market prices. Other warning signs are the landlord asks for rent payment in advance of signing a lease, or if the landlord is unwilling to meet in-person and only wants to communicate electronically. If you’re out of town, you can always ask the landlord to take a video of the unit or have a virtual video meeting.

Bogus job offers

Like many students, you may be looking for part-time employment to help cover school expenses. Avoid potential fraudulent job postings or job opportunities by asking yourself a few questions to help identify a job scam.

Are you offered a job without an application or interview? Does the employer conduct all their interviews via text? Does the company ask you to pay for something, like training or equipment to get started? Do they promise high pay for not much work? Or ask you to use your bank account?

Good jobs are hard to find. Do your research before you say yes to any job. Check to see if the company has a professional website and legitimate contact information. Search for what others are saying about their experience with this company, too. And don’t forget, never send money to strangers. No legitimate company will ask you to pay them to get a job.

Cheque overpayment scams

The overpayment scam tricks you into refunding money to a scammer who has overpaid you with a bogus cheque or a stolen credit card. Sometimes, the scam can look like this. Someone contacts you and offers to pay you $100 an hour for tutoring, but sends you a cheque for $1000. The person says it was an accident, asks you to deposit the cheque and return $900 to them.

If this happens to you, return the cheque and recommend a different payment method, especially if it’s the first time you’re dealing with someone.

How can you protect yourself?

Some tips to help you stay safe:

  • Safeguard your personal information – fraudsters try to find information about their targets online, and sometimes use details they find out about you, like your program to study, to appear legitimate
  • Ensure your phone numbers, emails, usernames, passwords, and student number are secure
  • Review your social media platform to ensure your security settings are up-to-date, or upgrade to new security features that are available
  • Be weary of receiving offers from people you don’t know. That includes jobs you never applied for, or communications notifying you that you have won a contest or lottery you never entered

Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Learn more about how to stay safe. Visit Scotiabank’s Security Centre for more information and tips. The Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre has resources too.

Not sure if you’ve been a target of a scam? Report any kind of issue you’re experiencing to Scotiabank here.