How to Avoid Scholarship Scams
Just as there are many scholarships, there are many scholarships scams. Although many sound legitimate and official, BE CAREFUL. Remember one cardinal rule: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
You should be suspicious of an organization if they do any of the following:
- Request payment of fee to apply for scholarships.
- Insist on your credit card or checking account number. If given a number, they could charge unnecessary fees or drain your account.
- Pressures you to act fast. “This offer will expire….”.
- Request an advance fee to apply for a low-interest educational loan.
- Guarantee scholarship winnings or search results.
- Have loose eligibility requirements.
- Charge you for a scholarship.
- Use a mail drop as a return address.
- Do not include a telephone number for inquiries or have only an answering machine at the number given.
- Send you a notification that you were selected to receive a scholarship for which you never applied.
- Attempt to lure you in with financial aid information in order to sell you something else (i.e. life insurance annuities, etc.)
Be cautious and remember that a toll-free number and official looking stationary are not signs of legitimacy. These things are easy to obtain. Before you send money to an organization, it would be a good idea to verify their legitimacy by doing the following:
- Contact your college financial aid administrator or high school guidance counselor.
- Check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), the State Attorney General’s Office, and the State Chamber of Commerce in your state and in the state where the organization is located.
- Contact the National Fraud Information Center (www.fraud.org) at 1-800-876-7060.
- Call the Post Office Inspector’s mail fraud hotline at 1-800-654-8896.
- Send email to SCAMS-L@finaid.org
Take advantage of free sources of scholarship information and search services, which are available through your local public library, the financial aid offices at many schools, online and your high school counselor’s office.
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