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Credit Card Scams Targeting College Students

PSECU's Sara Weiser details a new credit card scam called "Card Cracking." (Photo Credit: PT Money, ptmoney.com)

Fraud isn’t new, but there’s a growing trend in scamming that is specifically targeting college students called “Card Cracking.” This scam plays out in different ways, but the overall goal is the same – get college students to willingly give away their account numbers and PINs.

Unfortunately, the fraudsters know the vulnerabilities of college students like you – a desire to earn money without much free time and a need to earn scholarships to fund your education. With the rising cost of college, many college students have fallen into the trap, hoping it will help them pay off current bills or reduce student loan debt, and found themselves facing major problems as a result.

The scam usually runs along these lines – a college student is contacted with an unbelievable offer of an easy way to make money or get scholarship funds. Fraudsters will often contact you through social media, a place where many students have their guards down already. If you agree to the offer, the fraudster will ask for your account information and PIN. Then they’ll deposit fake checks into your account, and soon after, use your information to withdraw all of the fraudulent funds that were credited to the account, as well as any legitimate money you had.

In some situations, you may not be fully aware of what’s happening and will have to work with your financial institution to prove it was fraud and get your money back. This can cause a temporary loss of access to the money and the account, which can be financially troublesome.

In other situations, you may face even bigger problems. Some fraudsters will let you know that they’re looking to deposit a fake check and will offer you a cut of the funds in exchange for letting them use your account. In these cases, temporary financial troubles may pale in comparison to the legal troubles you can face for being an accomplice.

Awareness is key if you want to stay safe from these scams. Today, it’s card cracking, but in the future, it’s almost certain that a new method of scamming students (and others) will begin trending. Remember these general guidelines to protect yourself.

 

  • If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research and confirm the validity of any financial offers you receive.

 

  • Protect your information. You should treat your financial account information the same way you treat your personal information. Keep it in a secure place and be wary of giving it to others.

 

  • Don’t be a victim, or an accomplice. Getting caught up in scams can damage your finances and financial stability. And if you’re aware of what’s going on, it can cause you legal trouble, too. Even when times are hard, it’s not worth risking your future.

 

The content provided in this article is for informational purposes only. Nothing stated is to be construed as financial or legal advice. PSECU recommends that you seek the advice of a qualified financial, tax, legal or other professional if you have questions.