Alabama college students, you need to know how to avoid these common scams

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These tips can help young people in Alabama avoid common scam tactics. (Jacob Blankenship / Bham Now)

If you’re like me, or any of my other friends here in Alabama—you might have seen the viral story on The Cut about a woman who fell for an elaborate phone scam that ended with her giving a stranger a shoebox with $50,000 cash inside. The story blew up, sparking a discussion about the likelihood of being scammed, and whether someone could actually fall for such a thing.

The truth is, fraud doesn’t just affect the gullible or the elderly. As it turns out, getting scammed is quite common among young people too. 

We spoke to Jeff Taylor, Senior Vice President, Corporate Banking Group Fraud Forensics at Regions Bank, about the most common scams he sees among college students here in the state.

Common scams among young people in Alabama

According to Taylor, many of the most common scams among college students target their specific needs and desires. For example, scammers might list a fake apartment and require a security deposit or application fee. Because you’re desperate for a cheap apartment, you pay the cost—only to find out there’s no apartment and you’re out $500. 

Let’s say you just moved into your first apartment, and you find a couch on an online marketplace for a great deal. You look at the pictures and you’re interested, so you message the seller and Venmo $100 for the couch, only to be ghosted and blocked.

“What we’re seeing is targeted methodology. The fraudster will tailor their approach based on what they believe that college student may need. They typically start with phishing using either email or text message. Once the person responds to that message, the conversation begins to develop from there and it really is game on at that point.

They’re great marketers, and they target their audience based on what that audience needs and what their lifestyle is like.”

Jeff Taylor, Senior Vice President, Corporate Banking Group Fraud Forensics at Regions Bank

These are some of the most common scams that affect young people today, says Taylor:

  • Credit card loan scams
  • Dating scams/ scamming through dating apps
  • Gift card scams
  • Fake employment
  • Fraudulent apartments
  • Online marketplaces

“The credit card loan scam is a little interesting. You’ve got a guy standing in the quad and students are walking by and he’s handing out applications. Well, all of those applications that come back in have personally identifiable information. All of the things that that you need to enter into an application when you apply for a credit card. The whole thing is a scam, and the person that’s asking for that information is not an authorized representative of the credit card company. They’re just gathering people’s information using stolen applications.”

Jeff Taylor, Senior Vice President, Corporate Banking Group Fraud Forensics at Regions Bank

Top tips for college students in Alabama to avoid fraud online

In the age of social media, it’s typical to post about your day-to-day life—your school, your family, your job, what you ate for breakfast, etc. The best way to avoid being scammed, Taylor says, is to be cautious about how much of your personal information is public and accessible.

“The more information that you provide on social media, the greater the likelihood that that is going to get in the hands of the wrong people.”

Jeff Taylor, Senior Vice President, Corporate Banking Group Fraud Forensics at Regions Bank

Here are some of Taylor’s best tips for avoiding online scams:

  • Set strong passwords, and regularly reset your passwords (every 60 days)
  • Utilize multi-factor authentication
  • Be careful using public Wi-Fi—use a VPN to be safe
  • Be cautious about what you post publicly to all social media platforms—utilize the platform’s privacy settings 

“It’s important that we teach a small dose of skepticism and a fraud awareness mindset, just knowing that these situations exist, and preparing yourself mentally to question these kinds of situations when when they occur. If it sounds weird, stop, call and confirm. Pick up the phone and call somebody at a number that you know, and get them get a second opinion or verify that the request is legitimate.”

Jeff Taylor, Senior Vice President, Corporate Banking Group Fraud Forensics at Regions Bank

If you are a victim, report to law enforcement

If you are a victim of fraud, it’s important to report the issue to law enforcement before taking further action. There are many resources available for those interested in learning more about avoiding scams:

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Grace Howard
Grace Howard
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