How to Identify College Test Prep Scams
It's smart to keep distractions to a minimum while you're in the middle of your SAT or PSAT test prep. However, there is one very important announcement that you and your parents should pay attention to regarding a recent scam from callers claiming to be from College Board.
Unfortunately, there is an ongoing phone and email operation that's been reported by high school students and their parents since the beginning of the busy autumn test prep season.
What to Expect
The caller or sender of the email will introduce himself or herself as an employee of the College Board and will already have your full name, home address, email address and phone number. Then, the caller or email sender will ask for your credit card information or bank account details because you need to pay for the SAT or PSAT test prep materials that you've supposedly ordered online through the College Board website. You might also be asked for your social security number.
Even if your caller ID shows that the number originates from a College Board office location, the number could have been changed by the scammer in order to make you believe the call is genuine.
How to Know It's A Scam
You will immediately know that the phone call or email is a scam because the College Board never asks for your financial information, College Board account password or other personal information over the phone or email. You are only asked to enter your credit card information into your secure online account on CollegeBoard.com when you register for the SAT or PSAT or when you order study materials or score reports.
The College Board does occasionally place phone calls to students in response to a student-generated inquiry or to give you information about an upcoming test for which you've registered. Otherwise, you will never receive unsolicited phone calls from College Board.
Of course, you should never give out your financial details over the phone or over email to any unverified person, and especially when you know that the institution would never ask you for such personal information in this manner. Even if the person has your phone number, home address and full name, you must regard the call or email as a scam if they are asking for your financial information. After all, it's not very difficult these days to find someone's phone number, address and email through an online search.
What to Do If You Get This Call
If you do receive one of these calls, do not give out any of your financial or personal information. Hang up and report the call immediately. The College Board is asking students and their parents to report the call to the FCC.
However, if you are not entirely sure whether the call is a scam or not, do not give out any personal information just to be safe and immediately call the College Board at 866-756-7346. You could also ask the caller to send the information to your email. If they refuse or react strangely, then you can be sure it is a scam.
For more information on how you can protect yourself from phone call scams (aka telemarketing fraud), check out these important tips from the Federal Trade Commission.
And now, back to your regularly scheduled test prep...