Don’t be scammed
by Denisha Maxey
THE END of the school year is coming to an end for students. Soon it will be time to enjoy the summer sunshine and no worries over homework. The end of the school year signifies a special time for high school seniors, who are the graduating class of 2017. My daughter is one of the excited students graduating this year.
The realization of high school being, turned into the reality of college planning and preparation. One thing I know parents who have children graduating this year have come to realize, is just how expensive college tuition is! College tuition continues to rise each year and students, as well as parents, are looking for scholarships to help cover the cost of their education.
Receiving scholarships reduces the financial burden placed on parents and avoids having to apply for student loans. However, trying to navigate the “scholarship world,” searching for scholarships students are eligible to receive can be tricky. Add the additional challenge of scammers waiting to take advantage of students and parents; searching for scholarships can be a stressful task. Here are a few scholarship scams parents and students need to watch out for:
Beware of any scholarship organization making claims of improving your chances to receive scholarships, but request a small fee to get students preapproved. In the end, the student never receives a scholarship and is told it went to another applicant. However, in reality there never was a real chance of being awarded a scholarship. The organization is collecting the fees and pocketing the money. Small fees of $50.00 can quickly add up when you collect it from several unsuspecting applicants!
Do not cash any scholarship check arriving in the mail with an amount higher than you were eligible for. Scam scholarship organizations will send out a check, ask the receipt to cash it and send the dollar amount difference back to the organization. The problem occurs when the check is cashed and the recipient discovers later the check was fake or invalid. Not only have you been scammed out of your money, but there will be consequences and fees from your financial institution. In the most extreme cases, the check may be linked to a criminal investigation you have now found yourself in the middle of.
Be leery of any pre-approved scholarships emails from an organization you did not apply for a scholarship from. Often these types of emails are in your junk or spam folder because they are sent out as bulk messages. You will not receive a scholarship from organization you never completed an application with. The email will provide instructions on how to receive the scholarship and ask you to pay a disbursement fee. In the end, the recipient ends up with a fake or invalid check and out of a money for a fee that should have never been paid!
In the end, be smart and do your homework. Always research any business or organization offering scholarships or grants by visiting BBBhou.org or BBB.org.
Denisha Maxey is director of dispute resolution at Houston Better Business Bureau.