College Students: Don't Fall for These Scams
Buddy Peaster has seen college students fall victim to all sorts of scams in his 30-plus years in campus enforcement.
 
The chief of police at Middle Tennessee State University says college kids are a typical target for scammers because they are quick to share personal information—both online and in person.
 
Peaster says the latest scam to hit his campus—and possibly others across the country—is aimed at women who are misled into buying phones under their own plans in exchange for cash with the false promise that they won’t incur any additional usage charges.
 
“I can only buy so many, you got an account,” Peaster says is the pitch, generally made by a smooth-talking male in his early to mid-20s. “They convince them that the phone won’t be used under their plan and even if they are, you aren’t using it, so all you have to do is file a police report.”
 
Peaster says the women are paid between $200 and $700—depending on the number of phones they purchase—but the charges that inevitably end up on their cellphone bills are upwards of $1,000. So, in time, they’re in the red.
 
It appears that the perpetrators are shipping the phones overseas, he said.
 
The deceptive phone scam is just one that college students and parents should be aware of as classes begin this semester. Here are some more:
 
Scholarship schemes
 
Never say never, unless it’s paying to apply for a scholarship.
 
“If you have to pay money to get money, it’s probably a scam,” says Mark Kantrowitz, a financial aid expert and senior vice president and publisher of edvisors.com. “Never invest in more than a postage stamp.”
 
A typical scam might ask you to pay a small fee to apply for the chance at one of 180 $1,000 scholarships, Kantrowitz says. But if 100,000 people apply, then someone’s pocketing the difference and, to be sure, it’s not you.
 
The FTC says students should question scholarship offers that are advertised as “guaranteed or your money back,” or ones that claim, “We’ll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee.”
 
Kantrowitz says the prevalence of these scholarship schemes has waned since Congress passed the College Scholarship Fraud Prevention Act of 2010, but they’re still out there. He lists several scholarship matching services, which are free, on his website.
 
Read more about scholarship scams here.
 
Questionable business opportunities
 
College students strapped for cash may find a pitch to earn extra income quite appealing but academics are warning students about questionable multi-level marketing (MLM) companies recruiting on college campuses.
Stacie Bosley, an economics professor at Hamline University in St. Paul, Minn., says she has contacted Big Ten colleges about creating a program for students to educate them about MLMs, pyramid schemes and shady businesses. She says several MLM companies are actively contacting Hamline students.
 
In 2013, William Keep, the dean of the business school at The College of New Jersey, issued a warning to students about Vemma, an Arizona-based MLM recruiting students on campus with its Young People Revolution. (In 2016, Vemma reached a $238 million settlement with the FTC, which alleged it was operating a pyramid scheme.)
 
Bosley says she talks to students from an entrepreneurial perspective about a particular MLM’s business model, the risk of losing money based on a company’s income disclosure statements, and the morality of any questionable tactics used by a company.
 
Experts advise students to research the particular company that contacts them, read up on the differences between legitimate MLMs and pyramid schemes and to contact college officials if they have concerns. For more on what to ask, click here.
 
Supposed student loan debt relief
 
Scammers aren’t dumb. They know that nearly 40 million Americans owe $1.2 trillion in student loan debt. So they’ve zeroed in on that vulnerable population, offering loan consolidation and repayment services for upfront fees.
 
“These advertisements appeal to borrowers who are struggling to repay their student loans but who are unaware of their repayment options,” Kantrowitz writes in a post on edvisors.com. “Borrowers can consolidate their federal student loans for free at StudentLoans.gov. They can also obtain flexible repayment plans, such as extended repayment and income-based repayment, without needing to pay a fee.”
 
In July, Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan filed lawsuits against two companies, First American Tax Defense LLC and Broadsword Student Advantage LLC, claiming that the unlicensed operations illegally charged vulnerable borrowers hundreds of dollars in upfront fees for loan repayment services that were bogus.
 
Madigan’s lawsuits allege that both companies falsely claimed affiliation with the U.S. Department of Education, and that First American specifically advertised an “Obama forgiveness program” that is not an actual program.
 
The federal government does have a program, Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, which aims to reduce monthly payments and forgive any remaining debt after 20 years, or after 10 years, for students now working in public service jobs who haven’t missed any monthly payments.
 
Free services are also available online at Consumer Finance Protection Bureau and the National Consumer Law Center websites. 
 
Gainful employment post graduation
 
And now a warning for undergrads looking to further their education after they get their bachelor’s degree.
 
David Reischer, founder of LegalAdvice.com, has a problem with the way some schools market “gainful employment” numbers to prospective students and their parents. His advice: Don’t let these figures be the deciding factor in attending one school over another.
 
“It is not uncommon to have less than 10 percent of the student body actually respond to a questionnaire,” Reischer says, “yet the data represented by the school makes it seem as if the number of students that have ‘gainful employment’ upon graduation is representative of the entire graduating class.”
 
Unfortunately, third-party publishers such as the U.S. News & World Report and Princeton Review, which claim to run independently of the schools they rank, only exacerbate the inaccuracies, Reischer says.
“These publications merely parrot the statistics provided by the schools of higher learning,” he says.
 
Study-abroad transparency
 
Nearly 300,000 U.S. students studied abroad for academic credit in the 2011-12 school year. While that’s only about 1 percent of the overall higher education population, it’s still a lot of students trusting that their school isn’t giving them a raw deal.
 
But are they getting a good deal? A proposal in the New York State Assembly would require schools to disclose in writing any perks the colleges receive from study-abroad programs and the actual costs to the school for their student’s participation.
 
“They work out a deal that is lower than their tuition, but the student pays normal tuition,” Ken LaValle, chairman of the Higher Education Committee, reportedly told the Albany Times Union.
 
Amid concerns that schools are raking in the difference between the actual cost and the one they charge, the legislation aims to “encourage transparency by informing students about the nature of a particular institution’s relationship with a study-abroad program.”
 
Safeguarding identity information
 
Social security numbers are an identifier often required for college forms, student loans, employment, and apartment applications. But giving the number out—as is the case with any personal information — is not without risk. Here are some steps students can take to protect themselves from identity theft.
  • Don’t carry your Social Security card other than for the rare occasions when it might be needed. Also, do not give it out or use it as an identifier unless absolutely necessary. Just because there’s a spot for your SSN on a form doesn’t mean that you need to enter it. Students can ask  to use another number as an identifier.
  • Don’t leave checkbooks, bills, or other documentation with identifying information in your car or backpack where it might be stolen. Likewise, be careful with the information you have strewn around your dorm or apartment, especially if you have strangers over.
  • Don’t give out personal info over the phone or on the Internet unless you know without a doubt with whom you are dealing. Also, be wary of posting too much personal information (address, telephone number, birthdate, etc.) online, including on social networking sites like Facebook.
 
Students should also monitor bank and credit card statements regularly (and dispute any unauthorized charges), employ different user names and passwords online, and make sure their computer virus software is up-to-date.
 
 
And students should also think twice about paying for identity theft protection (see our post on LifeLock). All three credit-reporting bureaus—Experian, Equifax, TransUnion—offer fraud alert services for free and are required by law to make one free credit report copy eligible per year to consumers.
 
Oh, and one more thing: When searching for off-campus housing on Craigslist, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
 
Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

User

What Is Wrong with Today’s Student Community?
I often tell Venkat, my better half, about the massive transformation in students' attitude and behaviour since the time I began teaching in business schools (B-schools) sometime in the mid-1980s. 
 
Earlier, the students had a modicum of respect for their teachers. Now the situation is vastly different. Students wish you ‘Good morning’ or ‘Good afternoon’ so long as you teach them during a semester. 
 
The moment that they know that you are not going to teach them during the next semester, an eerie indifference develops. They become strangers.
 
As always, there are exceptions to the rule. I still have some of students whom I taught in the mid-1990s coming up to me through social media and wishing me on important occasions. 
 
My niece Deepa, who takes home-tuitions in Kerala, says that the expectations of students have increased manifold. Everywhere the notion of “I-am-paying-money-so-I-want-the-best” has emerged. 
 
We are living in a digital world characterised by instant feedback. Whether it is a doctor, dentist, teacher, educational institution, resorts, and hotels—you name it—and there is ample opportunity for people to give their feedback. 
 
If people are spending their hard-earned money, they would naturally expect the delivery of the service to be commensurate with the money charged.
 
However, teaching is slightly different compared to ordering pizza and garlic bread from a fast food joint. 
 
Teaching is a process where both the teacher and the student need to be on the same wavelength so that the latter is more receptive to concepts taught. 
 
An enthusiastic student will motivate even a callow teacher to push the envelope. No wonder, student engagement in business schools is now becoming the hot topic for research in social sciences.
 
Venkat often feels that even the process of giving feedback must be taught to students. 
 
However, B-schools are in a mad rush to quickly collect feedback and collate data so that they can pare down the emoluments of teachers. 
 
So, in most middle-rung business schools, teachers have to deal with lots of trash written by students and so the feedback is religiously dumped into the dust bin. Neither the teacher nor the students benefit from it. 
 
I would appeal to B-schools  to internalise a feedback mechanism that is more contemporary and where personality traits do not overshadow performance of the teacher concerned. Ironically, business schools wax eloquent about innovation but fail to do that in some of the key institutional processes.
 
Recently, I met a relative at a social function in Pune. This girl, who is related to me from Venkat’s side, is a qualified engineer. After having worked in Cisco for close to five years, she quit because it was becoming difficult to manage both home and work, thanks to the crazy working hours. 
 
She now works in a school as a computer teacher. She mentioned to me about a class VI student who, when rebuked, told her that, “My father has paid lakhs in donation. So why are you punishing me?” 
If a school student behaves in that fashion, what can you expect from students in B-schools?
 
B-school is more of a training ground for future managers. But students carry their degree college baggage to their own peril. 
 
I have often seen students remonstrating with their teachers for the most silly reasons. Students having a field day in classroom get offended when their reverie is interrupted by a conscientious teacher. 
 
Gadget addicts that students have now become – they find it a pain when rules prohibit usage of Smartphones in classrooms and corridors.
 
Students who are not punctual are a real pain. In institutions where academic regulations and rules are quite stringent, this attitude of students causes great stress to teachers. 
 
There are students who are forever late, give loads of excuses and, once excused, they make it a habit to come late. 
 
If the teacher is an easy-going person who does not mind flouting rules to appease the students (with a latent objective) then this matter gets exacerbated.  
 
This is why most institutions have now started using technology to provide daily updates to students about their attendance status.
 
There are students who have killed their grandparents so many times to get an attendance waiver. 
 
One girl in a Pune college went to the extent of claiming that her mother had met with an accident just so that the teacher would give her an attendance waiver. When the girl’s mother came to meet the dean in the afternoon, the cat was out of the bag. 
 
Ideally, a semester in a B-school comprises classes that are conducted over a span of three or four months. I find it shocking that students find it difficult to attend classes even for this limited period. Then what kind of future managers are we building in B-schools? 
 
More so, when the workplace of today is fast becoming a 24x7 workplace. Sagacious students would seldom use excuses for getting away. No wonder the industry finds that the present lot of MBAs are far from being employable.
 
Institutions that lack a technological infrastructure for mapping attendance of students face a humongous challenge when students come up with lies, such as: “I was present in the class but Madam has marked me absent.” 
 
If the dean does not relent then the student would bring all his family members to bargain for attendance and in some cases, violence erupts when students use their political contacts or contacts in the University to get things done. 
 
Deans with an open-door policy and "I-am-your-friend-and-well-wisher" approach expectedly face more hurdles on this front than those deans who go by the rulebook.
 
I do not want to sound like an old fogey carping too much about the present lot of students. 
 
I would like to reiterate that there are good students too but I am afraid that they belong to a minority group. 
 
As one of my colleagues Saritha Pasupathy once remarked, “If students have not been taught values till they attain 21 years, what do you expect B-school teachers to do?” 
 
Saritha quit teaching a while ago and is now busy writing books and conducting cooking classes in Pimpri. 
 
The situation is, indeed, glum. But the question is: How do we bring a transformation? 
 
Students are smart and tech-savvy. There are no doubts on that front. But values? Aren’t values important in life? 
 
This phenomenon of erratic student behaviour is not endemic—it has become the norm now. 
 
Uncouth students scoff at maudlin advice as they are too busy puffing away. 
 
As the instances of students taking to smoking and drugs keeps increasing, it is time for introspection. Mere grunting is not going to be enough. Is there a way out of this mess?
 
Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

User

COMMENTS

Premnath

8 months ago

All well said. The words such as EMPLOYABILITY, ATTENDANCE, ATTITUDE, ATTENTIVENESS and PARTICIPATION ....... as notified in this article needs to see causes. The problem is multidimensional, that is for sure.

In our days (1980s) we had lots of time for study/reading since there was little scope for distraction. One can not deny the fact that we(Government, education department,Institutions,teachers) could not keep pace with the eruption of technology. Whole nation is fascinated and carried away with the innovations & inventions of Morden gadgets. Everyone was finding shortage of time to update and master these gadgets, In process their children were left alone and the expectations on teaching Institutions grew up. Parents are expecting Institutions to groom their wards. At the same time our political structure is such that the law makers are busy in making money for themselves and no time for meaningful reforms.
Instead of funding the Universities our Governments should focus on Primary, secondary, and high school education with value based eduction (academic and co-corricular), which is crucial for a child in laying foundation.
This will make things manageable for the student in higher studies.
Once accountability is fixed for everyone (I mean everyone, from law makers to students) the system will take few years to recover from the present situation. Hope sincere efforts will be made in future by everyone to bring orderliness instead of blaming one another.

manoj dubey

8 months ago

most students are pushed to do courses of parents choice and student failed to see any value in attending those class or subjects . They are not able to relate the application in real life of the courses they are forced to learn . In my opinion to gain respect teachers needs to prove what they are teaching are really adding any value to students life. I have noticed none of teachers take real life examples - current case studies to excite the students - most are after to complete the text book portions.

Param

9 months ago

the correct way is to cut the umbilical cord. students who know their parents are funding this 'adventure' out of money they haven't broken sweat for are likely to remain entitled. students who are paying out of their own savings or loans (aka future earnings) without recourse to their parents are less likely to take the college experience lightly, let alone an expensive MBA.
on the institution side, it is to be noted that while colleges kept increasing fees based on highest pay package, the real return for most of the students (outside of the top rung colleges) is far from glorious. the colleges now treat students (& their parents) as customers to be pampered. most of the faculty either pander to the students or choose to be indifferent. the deluge of part-time lecturers (either enjoying break from corporate or supplementing their other income) also has added to the chaos, as they have no skin in the long term game.
i think it is a mess created over time & blaming one party alone would not work. if students don't see the value in being on time or even attending, is there a message we are not getting???

Rising Petrol & Diesel Prices: Can the Govt Solve the Puzzle?
With the price of petrol and diesel scaling new heights, there is concern about what would be the steps taken by the government to control the same. Petrol has crossed Rs86 per litre and diesel Rs75 per litre in Mumbai. Factors, which drive the retail price of petrol and diesel, are crude oil price and currency exchange rate, which are out of bound for the government. In this situation, the only option is reduction in taxes, says a research report.
 
In the report, CARE Ratings says, "...there is little that can be done in terms of influencing the global price, which will be driven by external factors. The currency too is beyond the purview of the government and will be driven by both fundamentals and extraneous forces. The choices are, reduction of excise duty or VAT by the central and state governments or provide a subsidy on these products to buffer price increase."
 
Reduction of excise duty or value added tax (VAT) by the central and state governments will mean lower revenue collections. In July 2018, the consumption of petrol and high-speed diesel stood at around 8,900 thousand tonnes. If the excise duty is reduced by Re1 per litre, it might lead to reduction in revenue collections of around Rs7,000 to Rs8,000 crore on an annualised basis. 
 
Prices of petrol and diesel, already at unprecedented levels in the country, rose for the ninth consecutive day on Monday.
 
In the national capital, petrol was sold at Rs79.15 per litre, up from Rs78.84 on Sunday. In Kolkata, Chennai and Mumbai, the fuel was priced at Rs82.06, Rs82.24 and Rs86.56 per litre respectively, all a new record, against Rs81.76, Rs81.92, Rs86.25 on Sunday.
 
Which Is the Relevant Price for India?
 
The Indian crude basket is a combination of Oman, Dubai and Brent varieties and the average price in July 2018 was around $73.5/barrel. To this should be multiplied the exchange rate which has been depreciating of late to over Rs71 per US dollar. Government taxes at both the central and state levels are then added besides commission to the dealers for arriving at the final price. 
 
The surge in fuel prices is largely attributed to the rise in crude oil prices and high rate of excise duty in the country. Brent crude oil is currently priced over $78/barrel.
 
The recent slump in rupee also has lifted the import cost of crude oil, subsequently raising fuel prices. 
 
How Important is Crude Oil for the Government?
 
Petroleum and petroleum products are an important source of revenues for the government -both central and states as these taxes are discretionary and most of the products are out of the purview of GST. The revenue earned in FY17-18 (provisional) is given in the table below.
 
 
According to the ratings agency, the petroleum complex is a very important avenue of revenues for the government. "Of the Rs8 lakh crore of excise, service tax and GST collected last year by the central government around 36% was accounted for by this complex. Around 20% of states’ own tax revenues was accounted for by these products. Therefore, there is a major interest of both the levels of government in these products," it added. 
 
What Are the Tax Rates on Petrol & Diesel?
 
The central government excise rate is fixed and is around Rs20 per litre on petrol and Rs15.25 on diesel. The VAT or sales tax rates vary from 16% in Goa to 38.5% to 39.5% in Maharashtra for petrol. In case of diesel, it varies from 22% to 25% in Maharashtra to 11.5% in Chandigarh. As petrol and diesel are out of the GST framework, there is no compulsion to lower these rates.
 
The table below gives the build-up in prices of these two products in Delhi as of 3 September 2018.
 
 
According to CARE Ratings, the curious part of the pricing of these two products is that the final mark up for petrol is 100% of the cost for petrol and around two-third higher for diesel. "Clearly, the assumption is that consumption would not come down substantially as can be seen from the revenue collections by the government. This also means that the taxes are higher on petrol, which is still considered to be a luxury good relative to diesel. The dealer price is otherwise lower in case of petrol," it added.
 
How Is Inflation Impacted?
 
An increase in the price of crude oil influences both the wholesale price index (WPI) and consumer price index (CPI) inflation. Petrol and diesel have a combined weight of around 4.7% in the WPI. In case of CPI around 3% is directly impacted in terms of petrol and diesel and the changes in the derivatives like transport and, airfares. 
 
The impact of fuel price hike on inflation can be gauged by the following example: the price of petrol in Delhi was around Rs70 per litre, which is now around Rs78.80. The price increase of above 10% would mean that WPI would have increased by around 0.5% (assuming the same holds for diesel too) on this score. In case of CPI (assuming all derivative prices went up by 10%), the increase would be 0.3%.
 
"With inflation already rising, especially on the non-food part for both the CPI and WPI, higher fuel prices will mean that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) would have to take action on interest rates and there would definitely be another rate hike of at least 25 basis points (bps). It is however, open to conjecture whether this would be taken as a pre-emptive measure or a remedy for higher inflation," the ratings agency concludes.
Like this story? Get our top stories by email.

User

COMMENTS

Mohan Krishnan

8 months ago

No need to solve the puzzle. As long as we have the poor to pay indirect taxes, retirees and Senior Citizens to subsidize by accepting very low interest rates on deposits, Insurance companies milking the poor, the parasitic and predatory elites and FIIs can enjoy the loot.

Anand Vaidya

9 months ago

Instead of wondering what the govt could do ( but won't ), we, as citizens should think and act on what we can do to lower our fuel consumption quantities.
Some things I have done: Switched to an electric bike for short distances - powered from a solar panel. So the running cost is zero
When buying car, ignore the gas guzzlers and buy a car with decent mileage
Merge several tasks when going out and make just one trip- during non-peak hours, if possible
Use online & digital payments, purchases to avoid driving to bill payment centers and shops often
Drive carefully avoiding frequent braking and hard acceleration - increases mileage

SuchindranathAiyerS

9 months ago

Why should Government care? The over paid, non productive Politicians, Bureaucrats, Police and Judges are immune to inflation and enjoy fuel and vehicles at my expense. The Bharathiya Jhamela Party believes that a wholesome fear of the alternarive will retain it in power

As for inflation, I saw this coming in 2014 when the Bharathiya Jhamela Party signaled its continuance of Khangress profligacy and methodology.

India's Constitution and Governance was designed by the British and their stooges who were handed over the mantle of power to thwart the real freedom fighters to streal from some for the benefit of others on the basis of aste, tribe, religion, and proximity to power to keep India in a continuous state of low intensity civil war, suppress merit and integrity, import goods and export wealth. They succeeded.

SuchindranathAiyerS

9 months ago

Why should Government pay? The over paid, non productive Politicians, Bureaucrats, Police and Judges are immune to infaltion and enjoy fuel and vehicles at my expense.

As for inflation, I saw this coming in 2014 when the Bharathiya Jhamela Party signalled its continuance of Khangress profligacy and methodology.

India's Constitution and Governance was designed by the British and their stooges who were handed over the mantle of power to thwart the real freedom fighters to streal from some for the benefit of others on the basis of aste, tribe, religion, and proximity to power to keep India in a continuous state of low intesnity civil war, suppress merit and integrity, import goods and export wealth. They succeeded.

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

online financial advisory
Pathbreakers
Pathbreakers 1 & Pathbreakers 2 contain deep insights, unknown facts and captivating events in the life of 51 top achievers, in their own words.
online financia advisory
The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Online Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
financial magazines online
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
financial magazines in india
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Online Magazine)