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.”