As the high school class of 2019 begins the next chapter of their lives, they will contend with an abundance of exciting new challenges and opportunities, and it’s important that they are prepared. Whether your high school grad is looking for work, learning how to juggle work and school and/or living on their own for the first time, the Better Business Bureau reminds young adults to make wise choices by making educated decisions, as scam artists are looking for opportunities to take advantage of their lack of life experiences.

Sadly, scam artists and people who are willing to trust them are never in short supply. The best way to avoid scams is to be knowledgeable about them.

The BBB provides the following advice and reminders for consumers of all ages:

Accommodation scams: Rental owners are supposedly governed by strict controls over the conditions in which they maintain their properties, however, there are unscrupulous landlords who don’t play by the rules. You want to make sure you actually go to the property before putting any money down and make sure you’re getting what you expect. For more information about your rights as a tenant, visit the Renter’s Rights section of the Texas Attorney General’s website.

Also, be on the lookout for nonexistent rentals. Often found online, bogus landlords take your down payment, and when you arrive, the person you gave the money to doesn’t even own the property, or the property doesn’t exist. Before providing any form of payment, visit the property and research the property management company by going to bbb.org.

Employment scams: Watch out for con artists who are out to make a quick buck by pretending they can help you find work for a fee. Others phish for information online, posing as employment recruitment firms or hiring managers, then use your information to compromise your identity. Once the victim has taken the bait and applied for the job, the scammers may set up an interview where they will seek out a victim’s sensitive personal information, such as their Social Security or bank account numbers. In some scams the victim will even be prompted to purchase “starter kits” for the job or send a check to cash for the purposes of covering their office supplies or training fees.

Steer clear from any job that sends you a check to deposit, then wants you to wire funds or put funds to a prepaid card. The problem is, the check is fake or it might be a forged check from an actual bank account (but not from the company on the check), and you could be charged with money laundering if you cash it.

Shopping online: Shopping online is easy and convenient, but it can be risky. Stick to the following guidelines to protect your information and your bank account.

n Never rush to make a purchasing decision. Be especially cautious about email solicitations and online ads on social media sites. Review the company’s reputation by going to bbb.org.

n Read the fine print. Be on the lookout for hidden costs or your purchase may sign you up for a monthly charge. Review the return policy.

n Shop with a credit card. In case of a fraudulent transaction, a credit card provides additional protections as it is easier to dispute charges that you didn’t approve.

n Use caution on Wi-Fi hotspots. Using Wi-Fi on an unsecured network puts you at risk for identity theft. Remember, never log onto your bank account or other sites that contain personal information while on a Wi-Fi hotspot.

For more tips on how to be a savvy consumer, go to www.bbb.org. To report a fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practice, call BBB at 903-581-5704 or report it via BBB Scam Tracker.

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