One of the more high pressured times in a student’s life is making that transition from high school to college, or even from junior college to university. Scam artists and crooks are out there waiting to prey on students and parents alike during this time as they know that the cost of going to college keeps going up. There are thousands of legitimate scholarship opportunities out there to help students achieve their dreams of furthering their education, but the amount of available scholarships can often make it near impossible to find the ones that a particular student may qualify for. There are a great many legitimate companies that are willing to help students muddle through all these scholarships and hunt for the right ones to apply for. There are also crooks who want to charge you money in exchange for a list of outdated scholarships you can find by searching the Internet, a list that includes scholarships you don’t qualify for, or who will not give you a list at all in exchange for your money.
As is the case with most situations, beware of unsolicited email (or spam). Many scammers use spam as a way to contact possible victims. They wait to see who responds to the email and then they know that it is a valid email address. Soon you get on more and more spam lists and are targeted by more and more crooks. Legitimate companies don’t use unsolicited emails to drum up business.
A scholarship search service should be willing to you give you information on how there service works, possible their percentage of success, and all costs associated with using their service up front. There should be no surprises when it comes to what they are going to do for you and how much they are going to charge you.
Don’t be afraid to perform your own scholarship search. Through search engines, online forums, and scholarship websites there is an amazing amount of information available that you do not have to pay for. For all you know, that company offering to help you is doing it this way too. There are also a large number of sources your high school guidance counselor should be able to help you out with.
If a scholarship search service gives any guarantees as to how many scholarships they can qualify you for or how much money they can get for you then you will need view them skeptically. There is not a scholarship search service around that can predict or force a college or charitable scholarship board to make the decision they want. These are independent groups who are considering hundreds, in some cases thousands, of qualified applicants.
Ask questions as to whether there is a refund policy and how does that get triggered? Legitimate companies should be more than willing to disclose all their procedures, like refund policies, and explain how they work and how they will protect you. Some companies offer refund policies but their rules make it almost impossible to qualify for a refund. Secrecy and mysteries surrounding these issues are signs that the company is not legitimate.
Scholarship search services almost always charge for their service, but the fee can vary widely. If the fee seems too large then it may be a sign that they are trying to take advantage of people in need.
Most importantly, know who it is that you are working with. Is this a scholarship search service or a foundation that actually awards scholarships? Perform a simple Internet search on the company name and also enter the word “fraud” or “scam” to see if any posts come up relating to fraudulent activities.
Scholarships help many students attend college who, without them, wouldn’t be able to attend. There are many generous foundations, companies, and individuals who give scholarships freely. There are even legitimate companies that will help track down those elusive scholarships that you might not be able to find on your own. But, there are also scam artists out there looking to take advantage of people during times of high stress. Protect yourself from Internet scam artists, get the knowledge you need to recognize a scam before it works on you.
Mark Allen provides the knowledge you need to protect yourself from a computer virus, spyware, and Internet scams at: www.saferemails.com