Signs of Scams
Before you look for a scholarship, you need to learn how to recognize scholarship scams for what they are so you can avoid becoming a victim. This knowledge will allow you to concentrate your time and effort on researching and applying for legitimate programs that might actually provide you with financial aid for college.
1. Administrative Fees – One of the first signs that an "opportunity" is a scam is an application fee. No legitimate scholarship opportunity has a fee attached to it. Some claim to require fees to cover application processing, administrative overhead costs, verification that applicants are serious, and other reasons that may seem logical at first glance. It's safe to assume that any so-called scholarship programs that require a payment from applicants are scholarship scams.
2. Guaranteed Awards – Scholarships are awarded on a competitive basis, which means that no individual or organization can make legitimate promises of guaranteed funding. However, some of the most convincing scholarship scams promise guaranteed awards to those who pay a fee for services. These programs should always be avoided.
3. Requests for Banking Information – Some scholarships scams are nothing more than identity theft attempts in disguise. No legitimate scholarship program will ask for banking or credit card information, and you should never share such data. Such requests are often made with the claim that the information is needed to transfer scholarship monies upon receipt of an award. If you fall for one of these scholarship scams, you could find yourself facing a situation of money being removed from your accounts rather than being deposited.
4. Mystery Money – If you want to apply for scholarships, you will have to find the programs and submit applications on your own. If you receive a call, email, letter, or other correspondence from someone claiming to represent a scholarship program that you never applied for, you are dealing with a scholarship scam. Do not provide any personal information in response to such an inquiry.
5. Unverifiable Organizations – Some people who operate scholarship scams set up phony programs that may appear legitimate at first glance. Don't provide personal information to any organization offering what seems to be a scholarship program unless you can verify that the opportunity is real. Anyone can create a website; verify that there is substance behind the program before sending in any information. Look for verifiable telephone numbers, physical address, corporate or nonprofit status, information about prior award winners, etc. as signs of legitimacy.