When looking for Scholarships, Be #Cybersmart

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Every year, internet scammers make over $20 million defrauding students and parents who are looking for ways to pay for college.  When it comes to student scholarships, it pays to be #cybersmart. Beware of scholarship scams, which can show up on social media, email, or text.

These are some of the telltale signs of scholarship scams:

  • The scholarship application requires a fee.

  • You receive an unsolicited email, letter, phone call, or text offering a scholarship.

  • You are notified that you won a scholarship, but you never applied.

  • You receive a scholarship check you didn’t apply for.

  • The offer requests credit card, bank account, or Social Security Numbers. Scholarships providers do not need these things to verify your identity.

  • The provider claims to be a foundation or tax-exempt charity. Check whether the organization really is a foundation using the Exempt Organizations Select Check tool.

  • You are asked to send money to somebody else.

  • The provider says that millions or billions of dollars of scholarships went unclaimed last year. 

  • Some scams will falsely claim to be affiliated with the U.S. Department of Education or another government agency. But the federal government is prohibited from endorsing private businesses!

  • The scholarship provider offers a free seminar or interview.

  • The offer looks fake or unprofessional. Scam scholarship offers often contain spelling and grammar errors. They often do not have telephone numbers and may have a mailing address that is a P.O. Box.

If you think you are the victim of a scholarship scam, take these steps:

  1. Contact your bank immediately to report it.
  2. Contact the National Fraud Information Center (NFIC) at 1-800-654-7060 or visit www.fraud.org
  3. You can also report the scam directly to the Federal Trade Commission by filing a complaint formor calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357). 

Scholarship scams can also operate by postal mail. If you receive a suspicious scholarship offer in the mail, report it using the U.S. Postal Service’s online complaint form, or call 1-877-876-2455 (say “fraud”) or 1-800-654-8896.