Struggling students should watch out for the ‘tutor scam’

Photo (c) Aleksandr Zubkov - Getty Images

Beware of prospective tutors who offer to do the work for you

In the competition to earn the best grades, some students cross the line when it comes to seeking “help” with their homework. When they do, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns that they risk becoming victims of extortion scams.

It’s a time-honored tradition that students who are behind seek the help of a tutor. But in the internet age, scammers have begun to advertise services that go beyond help and actually perform the work.

High school and college students who take the bait and pay a “tutor” to do their homework for them have reported becoming victims of extortion. According to the BBB, the “tutor” demands more money and threatens to expose the students unless they pay up.

Students report receiving threatening emails or text messages claiming the “tutor” will contact school authorities and report the case of cheating. One victim reported on the BBB’s Scam Tracker: “Once you ask for your money back, they will try to email your school or teacher to tell them that you use them and they did your homework.”

Easy to avoid

Avoiding this scam is not that hard. Struggling students who need help should hire an actual tutor -- someone who can provide references. Don’t just hire the first person who pops up during an internet search.

The BBB suggests asking friends, family, and teachers if they have any recommendations. Some schools even offer Honor Society students as free or reduced-cost tutors, so asking at school might be a good place to start.

Also, understand the difference between someone who can help you understand the course material and someone who offers to do the work for you. The rate for tutoring services may vary widely, so it’s a good idea to discuss that upfront before taking on someone’s services. The average rate appears to be around $25 an hour.

While tutors may charge extra for additional sessions before a big test, this should all be discussed and negotiated upfront. The BBB says last-minute surprises and demands are signs of a less-than-scrupulous service.

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