Editorial: Be smart getting education

Aug. 19, 2014 @ 11:37 PM

Many students have already, or will soon, be leaving us for college campuses.

Several entities, including the Better Business Bureau and the state attorney general’s office, have issued tips in the past to help students avoid scammers.

They are worth another mention, and not just for the typical teen and 20-something students. All ages are flooding our campuses these days.

The unfortunate truth is where there is opportunity confidence people — we call them con artists for short — are out among us.

Students, in particular, are at risk of identity theft. A few considerations we’d pass along include:

• School mailboxes are not as wise a choice as the home of parents for sensitive mail.

• Lock and key is a good way to store the most important documents, such as Social Security card, passport and bank statements. Shredders are good to have, too.

• Computer hacking does happen, no matter the brand of the device. Antivirus and spyware software should be updated regularly.

• Credit card activity should be monitored closely.

We like to believe most colleges have straight-talking employees. But encountering someone not directly with a specific college could lead to assistance, or it could lead to harm. Consumers should be vigilant to check information thoroughly.

Items worth fact-checking include:

• Student loans and repayment terms. Thoroughly question a school that says employers will repay student loans. Loan opportunities can also be checked online at cfnc.org.

• Promises of job placement.

• Graduation rates.

• Class sizes, instructor qualifications.

• Credits and if they transfer.

• Extra charges, such as books, fees, etc.

• School officials’ promises. Make sure these show up in writing.

And anytime something seems amiss, give the attorney general’s office a call just to be sure. The toll free number is (877) 5NO-SCAM, or (877) 566-7226.