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Common scams against college kids

Laura Willard is a law school grad who has successfully avoided using her education for eight years and counting. She's a wife and an adoptive mom to two kids. Motherhood is the best job she never knew she wanted so much until she had it...

Protecting your college student

Bright eyed and bushy tailed, your teenager is ready to venture out into the world of college and independence. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of people and companies looking to take advantage of his young naiveté. Here's the lowdown on common scams that target new college students -- and situations in which scammers can take advantage of unsuspecting freshmen.

College Student with Credit Cards

CREDIT

One of the few advantages that resulted from the credit crunch was a new law, the Credit CARD Act, that prohibits creditors from issuing a credit card to anyone under 21 who doesn't have a cosigner. If the student can show proof of income from a valid job, however, he can apply on his own. Be sure to talk to your child about the dangers and lifelong ramifications of using credit unwisely.

How to instill a sense of financial responsibility in your children >>

LEASES

Sometimes, leasing agents from student-style apartment complexes begin recruiting tenants for the following year long before the current one is out. The timing is great, right? Toward the end of a freshman's first year in the dorm, she's dreaming of her own bedroom and anything other than a community bathroom. Depending on the state in which you live, it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to get out of a lease. That means that your teen might just commit herself to living in an overpriced or not-so-great apartment for an entire school year. Discuss your wishes to at least review a lease before she signs it.

8 Tips for apartment hunting >>

Scholarships.com allows students to search for college scholarships and financial aid information for FREE. Their database contains over 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth over $19 billion.

SCHOLARSHIPS

Scholarship scams have been around for a long, long time. According to finaid.org, "If you have to pay money to get money, it's probably a scam." The website claims that students and their parents lose more than $100 million each year to scholarship scams. There is scholarship money to be had, but be sure you and your child carefully research it and never pay for the "privilege" of applying.

What are the most common sources of financial aid? >>

Term Papers

As a parent, you know that your child shouldn't ever use a term paper (or similar) service, in which the student pays a fee to more or less have someone else do his work. Many of these "services" take the assignment out of huge banks of papers and sell it to the student, meaning it's "out there" and has been used before. With opposing services such as turnitin.com, getting caught is only a matter of time. Using someone else's work is unethical and dishonest, and it can compromise your child's educational future. Many colleges have strict policies against plagiarism and will expel students for the violation. Unfortunately, it's not abnormal for a college freshman to make decisions that aren't wise in the moment.

Studying and homework tips >>

There's no reason to sit up at night worrying about your college-bound student, but there is reason to be knowledgeable about scams and talk to him about them. This is his first solo journey into the real world, and a little knowledge will go a long way.

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