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June 20

Fraudulent Scholarships

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Fraudulent scholarships have being increased in these last years, approximately $100 million per year. This process is based in the imitation of scholarship services, lenders, foundations, and legitimate government agencies. Here, you will find some advices knowing how to recognize them distinguishing from a legitimate fraudulent organization; how to protect yourself and what to do.

 Common forms of frauds:
 The illegitimate organization forces you to deposit money and do not receive nothing in change.

 Ask for an application fee requirement, from $5 to $35. Besides, your chances to win a scholarship are less than the lottery.

 Scams offer you low-interest educational loan if you pay a fee before you receive the loan.

 They ask you to pay a disbursement before you receive the scholarship of thousands of dollars that you supposedly have won, when you have not even submitted an application.

 Tons of web pages guarantying you that they have the best service to search scholarships but, be suspicious.

 Services that promise you to win scholarships if you pay money for it, and then they will refund it. That could be quiet difficult.

 Insurance companies offering free financial aid seminars, but in exchange you have to buy some products. Remember that it is violating federal laws.

 Protection against frauds:

 Some advertisings:

- Have to pay money to get money
- Sound too good to be true
- Invest time, not money.
- Do not invest money, no more than a postage stamp.
- No guarantee that you will win.
- Do not pay for application fees.
- Suspicious? Better, listen to it.

  Some signs:
- Application, loan, or other fees.
- Atypical personal information requests.
- Typing and spelling errors.
- Non-profit or charitable organization.
- No telephone number and notification by phone.
- Non-specific information.
- Unsolicited opportunities.
- Guaranteed winnings.
- Claims of university or government approval.
- High rates and excessive hype.
- Abusive treatment.
- They apply on your behalf.
- Time pressure.
- Influences with scholarship sponsors offerings.
- Everybody is eligible.
- Newly company.

  Some tips:

- Be cautious if they ask for fees.
- Get a second opinion from a trusted source.
- Call Directory Assistance to check the existence of the company.
- Do not give personal information to strangers.
- Write before answer.
- Do not respond to offers you never solicited.
- Find out how the organization got your name.
- Ignore offers with time pressure implications.
- Follow and trust on your instincts.
- Maintain good records.
- Ensure your student privacy.
- Communicate your parents if problems appear.

 Reporting frauds:

  How to report a scam?
- Are you suspecting of a scholarship scam? Look for an independent opinion and keep a copy of all the documents and correspondence you have being receiving.
- Ask for help to your counselor or to the office of financial aid at your school. Generally, they have updated information of the latest legitimate foundations.
- Write down a letter telling about your experience with the illegitimate company, including special details, your complaints, and what you expect from that organization. If you would have extra information such as names, phone numbers, addresses, letters, fax numbers, advertisements, etc. provide it.
- Furthermore, if you have some recorded conversation or email, notes with dates and time, etc. would be useful for the institution in charge of the investigation.

  Where to go to report a scam?
- National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
- Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
- Better Business Bureau (BBB)
- US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)
- US Department of Education Office of the Inspector General

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