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Racine school counselor warns of ACT, SAT imposter calls targeting high school parents

Posted at 5:17 AM, Oct 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-05 08:02:43-04

RACINE — Jeff Tarkowski, a school counselor at Saint Catherine's High School in Racine, wants caregivers with college-bound students to be aware of phone calls from con-artists posing as staff at test prep companies. A parent at his school answered one recently.

"They had said that her son looked into prep and she was thinking, 'Wow this is great,' you know," said Tarkowski.

"He's taking initiative and doing all this great stuff, so it kind of threw her off a little bit," he said.

Tarkowski explains the caller told the St. Catherine's parent that their son, a senior at the school, had registered for CDs [compact disc] with practice tests and more resources that would come in the mail. And that before sending the materials, they always touch base with a parent. The caller asked to confirm the address, and then he asked for a debit card number for a deposit in case their son wanted to keep the CDs or forgot to send them back.

"And he got very upset when she finally said, 'No I am going to check with my son first,' and then he hung up," Tarkowski added.

A spokesperson for the College Board, the non-profit responsible for the SAT, told us:

"From time to time, we receive reports of phone scams in which callers posing as employees of the College Board contact students and families attempting to sell test preparation products or requesting sensitive personally identifying information, such as credit card and social security numbers. These calls do not come from the College Board. We encourage families to report these calls to the FCC.

There is more information here: https://privacy.collegeboard.org/important-information-about-telemarketing-internet-scams [privacy.collegeboard.org]. As we make clear, we never make unsolicited calls trying to sell anything or asking for personal data."

Seeing parents of high-schoolers targeted doesn't come as much of a surprise to Tarkowski.

"There are a lot of parents that are interested in test prepping," he said.

The timing of these imposter calls is something to pay attention to. Students can sign up to take the ACT or SAT in the fall and winter, and bad actors out there know that. Plus, many families are willing to fork over quite a bit of money to get their students' test scores bumped up.

According to tutors.com, the average cost for an SAT tutor ranges from $45 to $100 an hour.

While many colleges during the pandemic decided to no longer require either the ACT or SAT for admission, students looking to get a specific scholarship or get into a certain program at a university may decide to take one of them.

That's why caregivers should be cautious.

"They can hit anybody from freshman on up. All they had was his name, that was basically it," Tarkowski said.

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