A new school year comes with new online scams. Don’t fall for them.

New semester, new schedule. New tuition payment. Are you sure you are all paid up? So sure that when the scammer calls you threatening to drop your classes if you don’t pay, you are unlikely to hand them your credit card number?

How about that strange text you got from a random number, offering a sweet new job for little work and high pay? You have a few extra hours, right? Why not grab some extra cash while you’re at it?

Online scammers don’t just target retirees. They have learned new ways to target college students. Thieves often ask for credit or debit card information, ask students to purchase gift cards, or tell them to transfer funds – and they are apparently cashing in. Unassuming college students nationwide are falling for a new scams. They work like this:

  • THE HOOK: They may try to capture you using any one of a number of ways:
    • You receive an email to your Ohio State account offering a part-time, flexible, lucrative job. The goal is to get your cell number and personal details.
    • You receive a text threating to drop your classes unless you pay off the mysterious “outstanding debt.”
    • They claim you need to pay IMMEDIATELY, but can only do it in person or through their “secure eBilling portal.”
    • They link you to a fraudulent website to collect money; but the money won’t be going to your tuition bill.
  • THE BLOCK: Slow down and recognize what someone is attempt to do to you
    • Scammers frequently instill a sense of urgency to get you nervous so you won’t be thinking clearly. Thieves use often abrasive and threatening language to evoke fear. In this case, the worry that maybe you DIDN’T get your payment in before the deadline.
    • If you fear, you’ll look around for help. The person on the other end of this exchange is more than happy to provide you with THEIR solution – to give them your money.
    • If someone contacts you claiming to work for the university, the IRS or law enforcement, inform them that you will be contacting that agency directly to verify their information.
    • Ohio State will never ask you for your username or password.
    • You should only make online tuition payments through Buckeye Link.
    • Furthermore, the university will not call you and threaten to drop your classes. Communications occur throughout the beginning of a semester to be sure you don’t miss your pay date.
    • An “old adage” stands the test of time because it is correct. If something seems too good to be true, it likely is. Offering you $400 to run some simple errands that anyone can do is NOT a dream come true.

Con artists prey on people who are under pressure. The beginning of a new semester, midterm exams, finals? Those are perfect times to attack college students and grab a little easy cash. College is a time to learn and exercise critical thinking. Slow down and remember not to trust everything you read and hear.