For parents of high school students, ACT and SAT scores are a huge deal. With college admissions and scholarships on the line, paying for tutors and test prep materials may be worth the price. But watch out for con artists eager to take advantage of this. Scammers – with access to kids’ names and school information – are tricking parents into paying for bogus ACT prep materials.
How the Scam Works You get an unsolicited call from a person claiming to be from the College Board, the company responsible for ACT tests, or another educational organization. The caller claims to be confirming your address, so they can send test prep materials, such as books, CDs, or videos, that your child requested at school. It seems so believable! Several victims reported to BBB Scam Tracker that the caller even had their child’s name, phone number, and/or school information.
Of course, there’s a catch. The caller needs you to pay a deposit, sometimes several hundred dollars, for the materials. They claim it will be refunded when the materials are returned. Unfortunately, if you provide your address and credit card details, the materials will never arrive, and your deposit will never be refunded. Scammers now have your credit card number and other personal information.
How to Avoid Test Prep Scams
· Always be wary of unsolicited callers. If someone calls out of the blue, always research their organization before you share personal information or agree to receive services or products. Look up the business they claim to represent at BBB.org. Search the name along with the words “scam” or “complaint” to find out if other consumers have had negative experiences. Check BBB Scam Tracker to see if anyone else has filed a report about the company.
· Double check with your child. If scammers say they are calling because of a service your child requested, tell them you need to check with your child and hang up. Make sure their claims are legitimate before you call back or accept a return call. The same is true for emergency scams.
· Understand the College Board’s practices. The College Board will never ask you for bank or credit card information over the phone or via email. If a caller suggests otherwise, hang up. Learn more about the College Board’s policies.
· Use your credit card when possible. Credit cards may refund your money if they spot a fraudulent charge or if you report one in a timely manner. You may not be offered the same protection if you pay with your debit card or other payment options. Never agree to pay a stranger with a money wire, prepaid cards, or digital wallet, such as Cash App or Venmo.
For More Information To learn more ways to protect yourself, read about impostor scams. Also, the Federal Trade Commission’s alert about test prep cons.
If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.