• Print

Financial Aid / Student Financial Services

Financial Aid Scams on the Rise

Scholarship Scams Tip Sheet:
Provided by FastWeb.com (August/September 2004)

10 Scam Warning Signs

Knowing the warning signs can keep you from being a scholarship scam victim.

  1. Fees: You shouldn't have to pay to search for or apply for scholarships. Check out the free scholarship search at www.fastweb.com/
  2. Credit card or bank account information needed: You should never have to give credit card or bank account information to award providers.
  3. Scholarship guarantee: No one can guarantee that you'll win a scholarship because no one can control scholarship judges' decisions. Also, be wary of "high success rates" - they usually do not refer to actual award winners.
  4. No work involved: You can't avoid putting in time to fill out a scholarship application.
  5. No contact information: Legitimate sponsors should provide contact information upon request. If the sponsor does not supply a valid e-mail address, phone number and mailing address (not a PO box) upon request, that could be a sign of a scam.
  6. Unsolicited scholarships: If you are called to receive an award for which you never applied, be alert - it's most likely a scam.
  7. Pressure tactics: Don't allow yourself to be pressured into applying for a scholarship, especially if the sponsor is asking for money.
  8. Claims of "exclusive" scholarships: Sponsors don't make their scholarships available only through one service.
  9. Sponsor goes out of their way to sound "official": Scammers sometimes use official-sounding words like "national," "education" or "federal" or they display an official-looking seal to fool you into thinking they are legit. Check with your school if you question a scholarship provider's legitimacy.
  10. Your questions aren't answered directly: If you can't get a straight answer from a sponsor regarding their application, what will be done with your information or other questions, proceed with caution.

Suspect a Scam?

If you think you may be dealing with a scammer, follow the directions below:

  1. Save all forms you receive from the suspect company. Keep copies of written details about the offer and any correspondence, emails or other paperwork. Make sure all materials are dated.
  2. Takes notes during any seminar or phone conversations. Record the date, time, phone number and the person's name with whom you spoke. Also include a detailed account of your conversation.
  3. Report the suspected scammer to any of the following organizations:

    Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
    Fill out an online complaint form or call toll-free:
    PH: 877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357)
    Web: www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams

    National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
    Fill out an online complaint form or call toll-free:
    Ph: 800-876-7060
    Web: www.fraud.org

    Better Business Bureau (BBB)
    Be sure to have the address of the company about whom you are filing the complaint.
    Ph: 703-276-0100
    Web: www.bbb.org

    United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)
    Ph: 800-654-8896
    Web: www.usps.gov/postalinspectors/fraud/welcome.htm

Additional Scam Awareness Resources

Fastweb: http://fastweb.monster.com/fastweb/content/focus/story/40.ptml

FinAid: http://www.finaid.org/scholarships/scams.phtml

FTC: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/scholarship/index.shtml