Strategies for Improving Workplace Behavior and Performance

From Leadership Expert Dr. Diane Hamilton

College Students Beware of Financial Aid Scams

In the recent article 15 Common Financial Aid Scams to Watch Out For, the author points out that college students may be a vulnerable demographic.  So-called financial aid experts may be out to take advantage of those looking for legitimate ways to finance their education.  Watch out for some of the following wording:  Unclaimed Money, Buy Now, Application Fees, Free Seminar, and Guaranteed.  For the complete list of scams with explanations, click here

Finaid.org claims, “Every year, several hundred thousand students and parents are defrauded by scholarship scams. The victims of these scams lose more than $100 million annually.”  There is some protection against fraud.  The Scholarship Fraud Protection Act of 2000 has increased the penalties for this fraud, including a maximum fine of $500,000 and jail time. 

If you feel you have been scammed, you have recourse.  According to the Finaid.org site, “The following organizations can help you determine whether an offer is legitimate. They will tell you whether they have received any complaints about the company, or whether it’s currently under investigation. They can also provide you with additional information or assistance.

National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
In addition to providing helpful information, the NFIC will pass your complaints along to the appropriate authorities, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your state’s Attorney General’s Office. The NFIC also maintains a toll-free hotline at 1-800-876-7060.”

Are You Monitoring Your Online Reputation?

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Individuals and companies need to keep track of their online reputation. Do you know who is writing about you or your business? In my book, How to Reinvent Your Career, I mention the importance of having a clean reputation online in case employers do some research into your background. That is important for employees, but organizations must be sure their reputations are intact as well.

One bad comment out there can cause a lot of damage. It is not just negative comments that can hurt you. I have heard stories about companies who have had their information translated incorrectly in other countries which has led to their business looking badly. Don’t assume that something posted in another country can’t be translated back into English and hurt you here.

There are sites like PissedConsumer.com or Scam.com or other sites where your reputation can be ruined.

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Yelp and others are very important to help spread your positive message. But be careful, because they can just as easily spread a negative one.

I like to use Google Alerts to set up searches to track who is posting things about me or my company. I think it can be very helpful and it is free. If your company is large though, it can be harder to track all of the keywords.

Another free option is Yext Rep. This site tracks mentions and reviews on sites like Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, Superpages and Foursquare.

If you are willing to pay a fee, Viralheat can monitor online conversations for a cost as little as $10/month.

Trackur is another option that many use. They offer powerful tools, you can be up, and running in 60 seconds with their service, monitoring keywords, tracking trends on the web, and discovering how influential your site really is. They have something called sentiment tracking that, “you can tag discovered items with a positive, negative, or neutral sentiment. Keep track of who’s saying positive things about you and who’s attacking your reputation.” The price for this starts as low as $18/month for their basic plan.

Visible Technologies is a good option if you need monitoring in different languages. They support 12 languages and allow employees to share reports. This comes at a cost of $500/month and up.

Radian6 allows you to manage your social media campaigns. It can be integrated with Salesforce.com, Webtrends and Omniture for $600/month and up.