BBB Warns: Watch our for SAT and ACT Prep Scams

By: 
BBB--Better Business Bureau

For parents of high school students, SAT and ACT 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 SAT and 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 the PSAT, SAT, and AP 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 people reported to BBB Scam Tracker that the caller even had their child’s name, phone number, address, school information, and/or the date and location of their child’s scheduled test.

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 after a set number of days. 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.


In a recent BBB Scam Tracker report, a consumer shared, “Caller, Carson, stated my son had requested SAT prep materials through College Board student services. He had my address, my son’s name, date and location of the SAT test my son is scheduled to take. The caller stated they needed parental permission prior to sending documents and that I needed to give him a credit card number for collateral. We would be sent the college SAT prep materials; the materials would be free of charge for 30 days and we would need to return the materials in the envelope provided and my card wouldn’t be charged. The caller stated they send email reminders prior to the return deadline and will send shipping confirmation once the material package is mailed out. My card was charged $249.95 instantly.”

Another consumer shared on BBB Scam Tracker, “I received a call from Brad [redacted] with College Prep Tutors. Stated that my daughter (knew her name) had requested ACT and SAT study prep materials. He said that they would be sent out via USPS and were free if returned within 30 days, but needed to charge my card to initiate the process, and that it would be refunded upon return of the USB materials. He sounded very legitimate and provided a confirmation number. I should have looked further before committing as this appears to be a scam.” This consumer reported losing $250.

 

How to Avoid Similar Scams

Always be wary of unsolicited callers. If someone calls out of the blue asking for payment, 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 others 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 first and hang up. Make sure their claims are legitimate before you call back or accept a return call. Don’t send any money or make a payment if there is any doubt about the 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.

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.

 

Whether or not you’ve lost money, if you’ve spotted a scam, report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to similar scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams

 

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