Graduating from high school is an exciting time in your life, but it can also be a stressful time. There are many preparations to be made: figuring out what your future plans are, finding the right college, and applying for all those scholarships. Be aware, in the middle of this confusion, there are many scholarship scams out in the "real world". Businesses or consultants may offer to help you find scholarship dollars, and according to the Federal Trade Commission, they lure you in with promises of easy money.

THE SCHOLARSHIP MIGHT NOT BE LEGITIMATE IF IT:

• Promises or guarantees free money
• Encourages you to act quickly before you lose out
• Announces money has been reserved for you
• States millions of dollars in scholarship funds go unused each year, and they are just waiting for you
• Guarantees a scholarship or your money back
• Boasts "We do all the work" or "You will not find this opportunity anywhere else"

These are just some statements that you may run into. While not all of these statements indicate you are being scammed, it is important to be aware of the lines con-artists commonly use.

TIPS

For those of you who are up to your neck in scholarship applications, here are some helpful tips. First, read all the information and keep a record for yourself. Never give out financial information over the phone, and don't pay anyone who says they are holding a scholarship for you. Check to make sure that the foundation or program offering the scholarship is legitimate before sending money to apply. Finally, don't be afraid to ask questions. Legitimate scholarships sources are eager to give you all the information you want.


Following these suggestions can save a lot of stress in the long run and can make the time and effort you spend rewarding. If you believe you have been scammed, the best thing to do is contact the National Fraud Information Center by calling their toll-free number: 1-800-876-7060.

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