According to the Federal Trade Commission, perpetrators of financial aid fraud often use the following lines to sell their scholarship services. Students should avoid any scholarship service or Web site that says the following:
- "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" or "You're a finalist" in a contest you never entered.
As compelling as it may be to pay someone to do a scholarship search for you, most financial aid administrators will strongly discourage you from doing so. Furthermore, despite the extensive advertising (flyers on campus bulletin boards and promotional materials in bookstore bags), Santa Monica College by no means supports or endorses any, "Scholarship Search Organizations."
There is really no secret network of information that is solely available to the "scholarship search agencies" that "guarantee" scholarship monies. In fact, there are many free scholarship searches that you can conduct right on the Internet.
Check out the Fastweb or Salliemae websites. When you are on campus, drop by the Santa Monica College Scholarship Office we have some scholarship resource books. The office is located at 1738 Pearl St.- hours are Monday- Thursdays, 8:00 am- 5:00 pm and on Fridays from 8:00am-1:00pm (during peak times, office hours may change).
A comprehensive Scam Alert has some instructions on how to protect yourself from becoming their next victim, it follows this page.
Scholarship Scams: Helpful Links
The Federal Trade Commission also works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit http://www.ftc.gov/ or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad.