Back-to-school season is a highly anticipated time for retail stores, and unfortunately, for fraudsters as well. Many of the scams seen throughout this season are just different twists on the threats that we see year-round. Let’s take a look at some of the most common back-to-school scams and how to recognize them.
Online shopping scams: Attempting to get their hands on personal information and money, fraudsters place fake ads on social media platforms promoting high value products at deep discounts. When shoppers click on the ad, they are directed to a phony website where their payment information and personal information may be compromised.
Identity theft: As the back-to-school season begins, so do a lot of common activities like joining a sports league or after-school classes. Scammers use this time to prey on parents looking to register their children by asking for identity information through online registration or application forms.
Phony tuition fees: “Don’t lose your spot!” is the call-to-action fraudsters are using to trick students and parents into paying a made-up tuition fee. Fraudsters send out an official looking email or contact you by phone hoping to take advantage of the stress that many people feel around registering for school. Some victims might already have paid the tuition in full, but are tricked into believing a fraudulent additional fee is actually needed to save their spot.
“Unfortunately, back-to-school season provides fraudsters with endless opportunities to trick and deceive,” says Raynier Ramasra, CIBC Senior Director, Fraud Risk Management. “It’s critical to educate yourself, and implement strategies to spot fraudulent behaviour.”
Helpful tips to protect yourself from these types of scams
- Don't give out your personal or payment information unless you know the request is from a legitimate source.
- Be alert when navigating websites or responding to emails and texts, and remember not to click on suspicious links and attachments.
- Ensure your internet browser is up to date, as this can help detect fake or unsafe websites.
- Avoid requests for unusual payment methods that are difficult to reverse like wire transfers or prepaid cards.
- Do your research and make sure you choose a reputable merchant when purchasing high-value items.
- Do your due diligence when dealing with an urgent request. An urgent request may be a sign of a scam. Check for red flags like spelling mistakes and threatening language.
- Fraudsters may use the name, logo and other characteristics of brands you trust, so closely examine websites to verify their authenticity.
Interested in learning more, or have questions about protecting your information? We’re dedicated to giving you the tools and tips needed to help you spot the signs of fraud and keep your wealth and privacy secure.