Going back to school is an exciting time for students and parents alike. Children are one year older, parents watch their young ones grow, and college students are one step closer to their futures. It’s a time full of new experiences.
It is also a time that scam artists love to exploit. When preparing for the new school year, there are some things everybody should keep in mind.
For Parents of Minor Children:
- Make sure your kids are not carrying personal identifying information with them to school such as their Social Security card. Children do not need to have this to attend school or for their classes.
- Keep tabs on who your children associate with on social networks. This is one of the best ways to help prevent cyber bullying as well as other cyber problems.
- Watch out for charity scams asking for money to help out the schools. Only donate money and school supplies to approved charities. Your Attorney General’s office has a list.
For College Students:
- Make sure you are attending a real school and not a “degree mill”. These schools will just take your money and give you a piece of paper that says you have graduated. Usually these places do not offer classes and the degree is in the mail within weeks of the check clearing.
- Research the school. Is it accredited? If the school is not accredited then your degree is not valid. Even if you follow a curriculum and turn in assignments, a degree from an unaccredited school will be worthless in the hunt for a career.
- Do not trust websites. Websites can lie. It is easy to post things like “accredited” as well as logos of known institutions on a site. Research and get the facts. Find what state the school is headquartered in and ask the Attorney General if it is a real school. If you cannot find where the school’s offices are located, then it is most likely a scam.
- FASFA has a list of accredited schools and schools that are accredited across the United States and not just local to one state. When applying for financial aid, check with FASFA to determine whether your school is legitimate.
- Go through your school’s financial aid department when looking for loans and grants. Besides risking high interest rates, many online sites offering student loans could also be phishing sites that are only interested in your Social Security number.
- Use known, reputable websites to get your textbooks and school supplies. Money is tight for a college student, but you shouldn’t sacrifice your safety to save $20 on a textbook. Use the school bulletin board instead of Craigslist when looking for deals.
So, as students head back to the classroom they will no doubt have high expectations for their scholastic accomplishments. Be sure they are also equipped with all of the safety tips they need to be successful as well.