The FBI released a public service announcement on Jan. 17 which warned students about fake employment opportunities that lure them into sharing personal information.
According to the announcement, victims of the scam could experience closed bank accounts, impacts on credit scores, and identity theft.
Savannah Kimball, Marketplace Director at the Better Business Bureau, says unintentionally participating in these scams can lead to financial hardship.
“Scammers are advertising phony job opportunities on college employment websites. There’s a couple consequences. The bank account can be closed due to fraudulent activity from the bank. The student is also responsible for reimbursing the bank with the amount of counterfeit scams. That’s so hard on students who are tight on money,” said Kimball.
The Better Business Bureau reports on companies and charities, and also monitors and tracks business scams.
“In Washington State, we have had 64 employment scams reported to our scam tracker since February 2015,” said Kimball.
UW Tacoma alumna Huda Al-Musawi says scammers targeted her a few years back.
“The man on the phone told me they have records of loans I took out from UWT and that he was a police officer who will arrest me if I didn’t pay all the loans in full right then. If I didn’t, there would be a warrant out for my arrest,” said Al-Musawi.
Incredibly worried, she asked to speak to the man’s manager. When a woman answered repeating the same information, Al-Musawi argued until the line disconnected.
“I called the UW financial office and they told me it was just a scam. I hope nobody else gave in, they’re such scammers,” said Al-Musawi.
“Tuition ones like that are relatively new. It’s similar to debt collector scams. Scammers pretend to be debt collectors and say they will send warrants out for the arrest if loans aren’t paid in full,” said Kimball.
The FBI advises students to take caution, never respond to job offers that seem suspicious, and forward suspicious emails to UW Tacoma’s Financial Department and Information Technology Department.
“I would recommend to people to report the scams to our scam tracker at bbb.org/scamtracker. That way you can actually search if there are scams happening in the Tacoma area and what happened. The most important thing, is that if at all possible, students receiving inquiries need to just not do it. That’s the biggest red flag,” said Kimball.