Now is the season when students are preparing for college by filling out applications and taking the required tests. Scam artists are taking advantage of this time by phoning families with bogus sales of college entrance exam study materials.

Scammers "...ask to sell you resources so you can do better on your test," according Perham High School principal, John Rutten.

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

They claim to be from A.C.T (American College Testing), an organization that gives out high school assessment tests. The scammers ask for information such as social security numbers and credit card numbers. Families that have been called never receive any study materials. There have been incidences of this phone scam for the past two weeks.

Brian Nelson, Perham's police chief, had recently received a call from the phone scammer. He said the caller was offering study materials and even mentioned his son's name. The scammers may sound very persuasive and reputable.

Luckily, Nelson recognized the scam, said "No thank you" and hung up.

If this type of call is received, Nelson advised to never give out social security numbers or credit card numbers. This information must be protected to prevent identity theft.

He said that if the call was not personally initiated, do not buy anything over the phone. Always make sure that the business is reputable. The best courses of action are to hang up, or try to identify the caller's phone number to give to the police.

ACT spokesman Scott Gomer said that the Iowa City-based company never contacts students and ask for social security numbers or any other private information.

"Everything is secure, we protect the privacy of all test participants," said Scott Gomer.

The company, which is now international in scope, specializes in college admission, placement exams, career guidance and other higher education services.

"There are always people who try to take advantage of situations," said Gomer. "It is unfortunate that they're picking on students who want to do their best and work on their education."

A record 1.42 million members of the U.S. high school graduating class of 2008 took the ACT. This is a 9 percent increase from last year and a 21 percent increase compared to 2004. These test-takers represent 43 percent of all high school graduates nationally, up from 42 percent in 2007 and 40 percent in 2006. The number of ACT-tested graduates has increased in 11 of the past 12 years, including the last four years in a row.

The ACT is a curriculum-based achievement exam designed to measure the academic skills that are taught in schools and deemed important for success in first-year college courses. ACT scores are accepted at all four-year colleges and universities across the country. ACT scores are also used to make appropriate course placement decisions by the majority of four-year schools in the U.S. The ACT is administered in all 50 states and is taken by the majority of high school graduates in 26 states.