Students today are increasingly being targeted by fraudulent individuals or businesses offering financial aid. The scams prey on the anxiety that students have about finding aid to cover tuition. Detecting fraud means knowing what to look for and what to research. Five solutions will help students to avoid financial aid fraud.
Do Not Pay For Access to Lender Lists
A common fraud is to sell students lists of exclusive or little known lenders. The sellers claim the list will provide access to financial aid sources few other people know about and increase the odds of getting a loan or grant. Students should never pay for these types of lists. They are simply collections of public lenders and grant programs that can be found with a little research.
Always Check Website Addresses When Applying Online
Another fraud to be aware of is website spoofing. This involves creating a website that looks like another legitimate financial aid site. The goal is to collect personal data and financial information for identity theft. Students should always carefully examine website addresses to make sure they are identical to the real website.
Ignore Unsolicited Financial Aid
Some forms of fraud involve unsolicited financial aid offers. These are usually scams that will end in identity theft or large charges that never lead to financial aid. Students should never respond to unsolicited offers of financial aid. The only offers that should be entertained are those from existing institutions that are already known to be trustworthy.
Look for Complaints and Poor Reviews
Students should always check online to see whether there are complaints or negative reviews about companies offering financial aid or other services. Checking for negative reviews can reveal whether the company has a history of problems or has defrauded students in the past. It can sometimes help to research the name of the owner of the institution to make sure that individual is not related to other schemes.
Avoid Guaranteed Offers
A number of frauds involve guarantees of financial aid. These scams claim the student will receive financial aid in exchange for a large fee upfront. The issue is that many of these companies will provide amounts of aid that are much lower than the initial fee. It is better to work through official lenders and avoid companies offering guaranteed aid.
Many of the frauds make inflated promises that a real lender could never keep. This should be a sign to students that the offer might not be real. Some research about complaints can quickly reveal common frauds. With some institutions such as HigherOne.com complaints can be investigated with some help. Any financial aid offers that seem too good to be true usually are, and following these tips can help you avoid the ones that aren’t as easy to spot.