The first year of college in Maine brings new challenges and opportunities. College opens doors that may be life changing, but it may also open the door to scammers that want to take advantage of unsuspecting young adults. The Better Business Bureau is warning college students to be aware of scams targeting them during such an exciting time. 

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Paula Fleming is VP of Communications & Marketing for Better Business Bureau Serving Maine, Vermont, eastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island. She says students can learn to recognize and avoid scams.

Roommate Scams - If you post an ad for a roommate through online classifieds, beware of “fake roommates” who are out of the country, but can provide the rent upfront in the form of a money order. When you receive it, the amount is higher than the amount requested. You are asked to cash it and wire back the rest, but when you cash it, the check bounces and you’re out the difference.

Rental Scams - Another form of a roommate/rental scam involves students searching for housing off-campus. Beware of fake rental properties posted online and always visit a potential rental before making any deposits.

Employment Scams - Beware of ads that pop up near campus offering jobs with “no experience necessary.” Often, these “opportunities” are bogus. If you’re interviewed in a hotel lobby or required to sign a contract, or have to pay for everything, including training, travel, lodging, food, etc. associated with the job, forget it! Check out a business first at bbb.org.Scam Alert

Scholarship & Grant Scams - Scholarship-finding services “guarantee” grants or scholarships. They sell lists to students of potential scholarship or grant opportunities. However, nearly all available financial aid comes from the federal government or individual colleges. Go to grants.gov for more information.

Online Shopping Scams - You see a much-wanted item for a steep discount online. One you could not usually afford. The catch? The site asks you to wire payment to them instead of using a credit card – a huge red flag. Once the money is sent, the item is never received.

Phone Scams - Scammers will usually call students and say they have overdue parking tickets, owe tuition money, or need to pay off a student loan. They threaten the student may be arrested or be ineligible to graduate if these go unpaid.

Illegal Downloads - It may be tempting to save money by downloading free music, movies, or textbooks, but many contain spyware that can end up causing financial havoc.

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Other ploys Fleming says to watch out for:

Credit Cards - While it’s important to build credit, it’s more important to maintain good credit. Many credit cards have annual fees or charge high-interest rates on purchases. Shop around for the best rate and pay off your credit card bills every month.

Trial Offers - From fitness club memberships to magazine subscriptions to acne medicine, diet pills, or free DVDs and CDs, know how much these products and services are going to cost you once the “Free Trial Offer” expires.

Safeguard Your ID - Keep your personal information, including your driver’s license, student ID, debit cards, credit cards, and bank information in a SAFE place. Be wary of any online solicitations, emails, social media sites, or phone calls asking for your personal information. NEVER give out personal information to someone you do not know.

For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people know trustworthy businesses and brands.