Just as students prepare to relax and enjoy the summer months, some scammers are gearing up for phony scholarship scams. For many college bound seniors, this is the time of year that is devoted to choosing a college or university, and of course the funding to go along with it. Decreased federal funds and grants left countless openings for scholarship and college prep scams to emerge. BBB is warning students to watch for scammers hoping to trick them into forking over cash in exchange for money they will never receive.
Scam operations often imitate legitimate government agencies, grant-giving foundations, education lenders and scholarship matching services, using official-sounding names containing words such as “national,” “federal,” “foundation,” or “administration.” If approached by a company which uses one of these terms, guarantees or promises scholarships, and/or uses strong emotional appeal to obtain private financial information, students should use extreme caution.
While there are still many trustworthy and ethical companies with students’ best interest at heart, BBB is warning students and their parents to be wary of these tell-tale signs:
Guarantees and promises
Steer clear of any company that assures you that you will receive a scholarship or higher test scores, but only if you sign up immediately. Remember that legitimate deals are rarely one-time offers.
Be wary of companies that tout information that no one else could provide you. Most scholarship lists are public information, and while there are legitimate companies who compile such lists, keep in mind none of that information is limited to just you.
Requests for personal information
If they are offering you a list of scholarship opportunities or preparatory classes, make sure you see and understand the details of what they are proposing before disclosing any personal information.
Avoid dealing with companies that demand money up front in order to find you a scholarship. Be wary of scholarships which require an application fee, advance-fees, and sales pitches disguised as financial aid seminars.
Awards for contests you never entered
The chances of being awarded a scholarship you never applied for are very small. If you receive a phone call from a representative claiming you have been chosen for a scholarship, ask for details in writing, and make sure you keep a detailed list of scholarships for which you did apply.
Phone calls claiming that your son or daughter requested a program
Often, prep course scammers will call households claiming that the parent’s student requested the company’s program. The scammers’ goal is to convince parents to transfer hundreds of dollars and personal information over the phone, only to later discover that their child never heard of the company.
BBB reminds you to always come prepared with questions for the company’s representative. If you research a company with which you intend to do business, you will be far less likely to be the victim of a scam.
To check the reliability of a company and find trustworthy businesses, visit BBB online. To report fraudulent activity or unscrupulous business practices, call the BBB Hotline at 903-581-8373.