Top 5 Warning Signs of College Financial Aid Scams
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How can I tell if a scholarship program is legitimate or fraudulent?
There are, unfortunately, many college financial aid and scholarship scams. People who are in need of money to pay for college can find themselves being taken advantage of by unscrupulous individuals and organizations who make false claims about being able to help them secure funding for school.
Here are 5 tips that can help you avoid scholarship scams:
- Do not do business when any organization that claims to be able to guarantee that you will win scholarship money as a result of paying money for its services. There are no guarantees when applying for scholarships.
- Do not do business with any scholarship service that claims to be able to handle doing all of the work for you. While there are legitimate businesses that can help people become aware of potential sources of scholarship funding, no organization can legitimately apply for scholarships on your behalf.
- If you learn about a scholarship from a company or organization with which you are not familiar, verify that it is in fact a real organization offering a legitimate scholarship program. For example, if you receive an application package in the mail or find a scholarship resource online, look for a telephone number and physical address so that you can verify that the organization actually exists.
- Do not ever give your credit card number or bank account number to any organization claiming to be offering a scholarship. No legitimate scholarship resources will ask you for money, nor will they request banking information for any other reason.
- If you receive a phone call or letter notifying you that you are a semi-finalist or finalist for a scholarship that you did not apply for, be very wary. The next request is very likely to be a request for money. Remember that if someone sends you a letter or calls you, it doesn't make sense for them to claim to need to verify your identity with personal information. If someone contacts you at your home address or telephone number, it is a safe bet that the person already knows who you are. Attempts to get additional information can very well be attempts to commit identity theft or some other type of fraud.
If you feel that you have encountered a scholarship scam, report the activity to the Federal Trade Commission online or by calling 877-FTC-HELP.