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Unfortunately, there are individuals looking to profit off students seeking scholarships. They take advantage of uninformed students and offer scholarships that are not reputable, scamming students for thousands of dollars. The good news is that the scholarship scam artists have a few telltale signs that can be red flags. Here are some to be aware of.
Scholarships are intended to help students stay out of debt, not accumulate debt. The vast majority of scholarships will not require a fee to apply. Very rarely, a scholarship organization may ask for a small processing fee ($5). Be careful of organizations and scholarships that require a fee to apply because there is no guarantee a scholarship will be awarded to you. Never give a credit card number or bank account number.
No scholarship is guaranteed. You may come across websites that will "guarantee" to find you a certain number of scholarship awards. This is false. Scholarship recipients are selected by a committee and for that reason cannot be guaranteed.
Receiving scholarship awards without effort on your part is not likely. There are some websites that offer to do all of the work for you regarding the application process. This is untrue. You must complete the application.
You may receive emails or phone calls announcing that you have been selected as a recipient for a scholarship for which you never applied. These are not credible scholarships. Often, the caller will ask for your Social Security Number or bank account information. Do not provide your personal information.
If you encounter an organization that is asking for your bank information, credit card information, Social Security Number or other personal identifiable information, get their information and report it to the Federal Trade Commission or the National Fraud Information Center. Remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Federal Trade Commission: 877.FTC.HELP (877.382.4357) or www.ftc.gov
National Fraud Information Center: 800.876.7060 or www.fraud.org
If you run into questionable scholarships, you may also contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We can research the opportunity and let you know if it is valid.