Just as there are many scholarships, there are many scholarship scams. Although many sound legitimate and official, BE CAREFUL. Remember one cardinal rule: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You should be suspicious of an organization if they do any of the following:

    • Request payment of fee to apply for scholarships.
    • Insist on your credit card number, any bank account number, calling card number, or social security number. If given a number, they could charge unnecessary fees or drain your account.
    • Pressure you to act fast. "This offer will expire if…”
    • Request an advance fee to apply for a low-interest educational loan.
    • Offer to apply on your behalf or claim to have an influence on scholarship sponsors.
    • Guarantee scholarship winnings or search results.
    • Have loose eligibility requirements.
    • Charge you for a scholarship.
    • Use a mail drop as a return address.
    • Do not include a telephone number for inquiries or have only an answering machine at the number given.
    • Send you a notification that you were selected to receive a scholarship for which you never applied.
    • Attempt to lure you in with financial aid information in order to sell you something else (i.e. life insurance annuities, etc.).

    Be cautious and remember that a toll-free number and official looking stationary are not signs of legitimacy. These things are easy to obtain. Before you send money to an organization, it would be a good idea to verify their legitimacy by doing the following:

    • Contact your college financial aid administrator or high school guidance counselor.
    • Check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org), the State Attorney General's Office, and the

    State Chamber of Commerce in your state and in the state where the organization is located.

    • Contact the National Fraud Information Center (www.fraud.org) at 1-800-876-7060.
    • Call the U.S. Postal Crime Hotline at 1-800-654-8896.
    • Send Email to SCAMS@finaid.org or fax information to 1-888-411-6565.

    Take advantage of free sources of scholarship information and search services that are available through your public library, the financial aid office, your guidance department, and the internet.