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It seems like nobody is safe from scammers – and that includes high school and college students who become targets of schemes that involve scholarships and jobs.

Whether it’s online, on the telephone or via regular mail, scammers are out for everything from your personal information to your money.

Your first warning should be anything that sounds too good to be true, or if someone immediately requests money or personal information such as a Social Security number or financial account information without clearly telling you why.

Scholarship and grant scams are common and can include offers to help you find one for a fee or they want personal information from you. But why pay when you can search for free?

Experts recommend that you complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid on the web at fafsa.ed.govOpens in New Window to learn about the types of aid available. You can also get free information from high school and college counselors.

Job scams also affect students. Don’t be tempted by lures of easy money or claims of high-paying jobs, especially if there is a fee to apply, if you’re required to buy supplies, or if someone sends you a check for no reason and asks you to put it in your account.

Experts advise that you should be wary of any unsolicited offer, so don’t share personal information unless you’re sure of the source. Also, if you feel you’re the victim of a scam, be sure to report it to the proper authorities.

It’s important to protect your personal data. That means:

  • Don’t share financial account information, Social Security numbers or other sensitive data unless you’re sure it’s necessary.
  • Don’t over-share on social media because scammers can use that information to trick you or others.
  • Be wary of unsolicited offers and don’t click on links in email or download files unless you’re absolutely sure of the source.
  • Don’t store sensitive information such as account numbers or passwords on your phone or computer. If a thief steals those devices or somehow gains access they can use the information in a variety of fraudulent ways.
  • Use online or mobile banking to monitor your financial accounts and be sure to set up text or email alerts to warn you of possible problems.

Be on the lookout for possible problems, and don’t hesitate to ask someone you trust for advice. Guarding your personal information and money can keep you from learning about scams the hard way.

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