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Protect your college bound students from financial pitfalls

Posted: 6:15 PM, Aug 14, 2017
Updated: 2017-08-14 22:33:01-04

Before long, college campuses will be bustling with a new group of young consumers, who could be targeted by companies trying to cash in on their financial vulnerability.

"We do get prayed on a lot because a lot of people think that because we’re just now coming into the world, were young adults they know there is things we need," says Alexis Brown, a sophomore at Wayne State University.

And that can include credit card offers, with credit limits beyond what's financially responsible for students without a lot of money coming in.

"If they’re offering 25-hundred dollars and they have no other income, it’s a red flag," explains Melanie Duquesnel from the Better Business Bureau serving Eastern Michigan.

There are protections in place for students. The Credit Card Act of 2009 places strict restrictions on marketing and issuing credit cards to young people. Companies can no longer offer free gifts like t-shirts or pizza, within a thousand feet of campus, as a way to entice students to sign up for a credit card.

And if a student is younger than 21 and wants an account in their own name, he or she must have proof of income or have an adult co-signer. 

"If they really truly need a credit card, please have them work with their parents, Duquesnel says.

Students also need to look for those "quick cash jobs" that are offered through emails. They promise a part-time position making good, fast money, but they ask for a $25 application fee.

"Anytime that a recruiter, I don’t care if it’s for a job for a college student, or for a high level professional, 99.99% of the time... they will not ask for money upfront," according to Duquesnel.

Another thing to watch for... scholarship opportunities that require money up front, or ask for information like your social security number of driver's license number.

Duquesnel suggests talking to your college financial aid office about where to find legitimate scholarship opportunities.

"Always do research," Brown says. "I can’t stress that enough, if you don’t do that enough research, you’ll probably get yourself into a situation that you can’t get yourself out of."