As students head back to school in the U.S., the Federal Trade Commission is warning them and their parents about scholarship scams.
The FTC says these scammers target students with messages, emails, phone calls, and even the mail with convincing-looking messages that claim your student has been chosen for a scholarship or financial aid package.
They usually also claim you have to act immediately, which is always a good sign of a possible scam.
Many companies offer to file your financial aid paperwork for a fee. All they’re doing is filing FASFA documents you can easily do yourself. Some companies claim they can get you more money, but that’s usually because they encourage you to lie on the paperwork. Providing misinformation like that can land you in jail.
The FTC reminds parents that FASFA applications are free to fill out and submit, and only you should fill them out. Don’t let scammers have your private information, they could use it to rip you off.
Also, never pay to apply for scholarships. Most companies that offer to find you scholarships for a few will just refer you to publicly available lists of scholarship opportunities you can easily find for yourself online.
The FTC warns that any company that guarantees it can get you scholarships is flat-out lying. Also, watch out if they claim to need your financial information to confirm anything.
These crooks also sometimes hold in-person seminars to suck you in. Much like a high-pressure time-share sales event, you may find yourself buying things you don’t really need.