It’s graduation time, moving day, time for finals or time to kick back for the nation’s college students. A hectic time when you may not be alert to scammers, so the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning students not to fall for the latest phone scam making the rounds – the call from a ‘student tax’ collector.
“Students from many colleges are telling the FTC that the calls go something like this: the so-called IRS agent tells you that you owe a “federal student tax,” and often has some piece of information that makes the call seem legit. Sometimes it’s the name of your school or another piece of information about you,” a spokesman said.
It’s the latest variation on the IRS fake lawsuit scam. Students who pick up the phone are told to wire money immediately using Money Gram or some other pre-paid method. These money transfer services are untraceable, and you can’t call the funds back when you realize your mistake.
“And, if you don’t act quickly enough, the caller might threaten to report you to the police. If you hang up on the caller, they might make follow-up calls with spoofed caller-ID information. So, while caller ID might say it’s 911 or the U.S. Government calling, it’s not. It’s all fake,” the consumer protection agency warned.
Remember this: the IRS will never make first contact about a debt by phone. Never. You’ll get a letter in the U.S. mail. Any caller who threatens you is a scammer.
If contacted, the FTC urges students to report the problem using its automated complaint system. Then spread the word around campus. It’s a busy time of year for students and the scammers know it. Fellow students need to learn about the scam ASAP.
The federal agency has also stepped up its effort to halt student loan debt relief and loan forgiveness schemes. Most of these ploys require an upfront fee but loans are not forgiven as promised.