Avoiding Scholarship Scams
1. Never pay a fee for a scholarship. This includes a website, agency, or person who claims they will help you find free money. Scammers use bogus fees and terms such as "application, disbursement, redemption and processing fees" as a way to steal your money. Scholarships are free money and should not require any fees.
2. Never provide a credit card, bank or savings account information. Scammers will steal your identity and ruin your credit for years to come. If you do, call your bank or credit card immediately and cancel your accounts.
3. If you see or hear the word "Guarantee" walk away. No one controls scholarship judges' decisions and there are no scholarship guarantees out there.
4. Be wary of offers that claim to involve little or no work. Real scholarships take time, energy, and work.
5. Before you apply for a scholarship check all the contact information. The scholarship sponsor should supply a valid email address, phone number, and mailing address.
6. Avoid unsolicited scholarship requests. If you are told that you have received an award for which you never applied, be alert. Ask where the sponsor found your name and contact information, and research the information carefully.
7. Free scholarship or "financial planning" seminars often end with a sales pitch to "act now or lose out on this opportunity". This can often lead to the purchase of various financial products such as insurance. Legitimate organizations do not use these types of pressure tactics.
8. An official sounding name or endorsement doen't automaticallly mean it is real or legitimate. Scammers may use words like "national", "education", or "federal", or they may have an official looking seal.
9. Some scammers tell students there are millions of scholarships out there that go unclaimed because students don't know where to apply. This is false! Check out www.educationplanner.org or www.fastweb.com for scholarship opportunities.
10. Look for typing and spelling errors on scholarship materials. Application materials that contain typing and spelling errors or look nonprofessional may be an indication of a scam.