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Scholarship Scam Warning Signs

Scholarship Scam Warning Signs

  • Fees: Scammers use bogus fees such as "application," "disbursement," "redemption," and "processing fees" as a way to take your money. Scholarships should not require any fees.
  • Credit Card or Bank Account Information Needed: Never give credit card or bank account info to receive aid. If you have, call your bank or credit card issuer immediately.
  • Scholarship Guarantee: No one controls the judges' decisions. Be wary of "high success rates," which often reward to award matches, not award winners.
  • No Work Involved: Legitimate scholarship applications require time. No one should complete them for you.
  • No Contact Information: Be sure to confirm the sponsor's contact info. They should supply a valid e-mail, mailing address and phone number upon request.
  • Unsolicited Scholarships: If you are called to receive an award for which you never applied, be alert. Ask where the sponsor got your contact information.
  • Pressure Tactics: Never allow yourself to be pressured into applying for a scholarship, especially if the sponsor is asking you to pay money up front.
  • Claims of "Exclusive" Scholarships: Legitimate sponsors will not restrict knowledge about their award to a single service.
  • An Official-Sounding Name or Endorsement Does NOT Automatically Mean Legitimacy: A sponsor may use words like "national," "education" or "federal" or have an official looking seal, but might still be a scammer.
  • Your Questions Are Not Answered Directly: Proceed with caution if you are not given a straight forward answer from a sponsor regarding their application, what will be done with your information or other questions.
  • Be wary of any scholarships that have the following phrases:
    • "The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back"
    • "You can't get this information anywhere else"
    • "I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship"
    • "We'll do all the work"
    • "The scholarship will cost some money"
    • "You've been selected" by a "national foundation" to receive a scholarship
    • "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered

Found a Scam? Been Scammed?

If you do find a scam or become a victim, contact local law enforcement and any of the following organizations:

National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
Ph: 1-800-876-7060, Web:

United States Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)
To report scams found vial postal mail:
Ph: 1-800-654-8896 Web:

Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Be sure to have the address of the company about whom you are filing the complaint.
Ph: 1-703-276-0100, Web:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
Fill out an online complaint form or call toll-free:
Ph: 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) Web: