The cost of obtaining a quality education is ever-increasing, and people who can’t afford it are forced to resort to loans, scholarships, or withdrawals from the educational system.
Students who resort to using scholarships to bypass payment of tuition fees, accommodation fees, etc are most likely to encounter scams such as a phishing website, phishing email, and many more scam initiatives designed to take advantage of scholarship applicants.
This post will serve as a guide to scholarship applicants who want to avoid giving out money, or personal information to a fake scholarship program. Additionally, you will learn how to spot and detect scholarship scams to avoid wasting your time and money.
7 Proven Ways On How To Spot And Avoid Scholarship Scams
Request For Sensitive Information
Fake scholarship programs will ask applicants to provide sensitive information such as their banking information, social security number, and lots more.
Sharing this information gives the scammers the authority to siphon funds from the student’s accounts with or without their consent. However, students are to only provide information such as their names, contact information, and academic documents.
Avoiding this kind of scam can be tricky because most scam websites will not ask for sensitive or confidential data on their official website, but may devise means of contacting the students to congratulate them on winning the scholarship program.
For example, you may receive an email from a scholarship review team that you’ve applied for the past week, and you may be asked to provide your card details before you receive your reward. Adhering to this type of instruction means you’ve given scammers the right to use your personal information for fraudulent activities.
Students searching for scholarship programs within their country of residence or abroad are most likely to encounter websites that’ll require them to make payments upfront. These payments may be to process your application, redeem your scholarship award, or for the application form.
Students should avoid falling for this cheap scholarship scam even if they offer to refund you if you’re not selected for the program. This is because genuine scholarship programs are intended to help students in need, and not to take money from them.
The scam may come in the form of an email or through a fake scholarship website. Students should be vigilant and never attempt to make any form of payment before they are selected for a scholarship program.
Phishing Scholarship Websites
These are websites designed to look like official scholarship websites. For example, a student searching for scholarship offers in the United States may be redirected to a website that looks like the Fulbright foreign students scholarship website.
The personal data you provide on this type of website can give scammers access to contact you for fraudulent purposes such as offering you investment programs, asking for your banking information, etc.
Unknown Scholarship Offers
This is another method of tricking scholarship applicants to apply for fake scholarship programs. There are instances whereby students will get contacted by a supposed team of a scholarship review committee congratulating the students on winning a scholarship they never applied for.
These scammers may visit blogs and public forums to gather contact information of students who wish to apply for scholarships and may contact them via phone or email to request money, personal information, etc.
Students who applied to multiple scholarship programs can also fall victim to this type of scam since they’re most likely to not remember all the scholarships they have previously applied for.
Absence Of Contact Information Or Contact Address
Every legitimate scholarship website will provide virtual and physical means through which students can contact or reach out to them for more information or questions. Fake scholarship websites will omit this information to avoid being trailed by security agents.
You can avoid this type of scam by checking out the website contact information section before you submit your bio-data.
This type of scholarship program is awarded by chance or after applicants complete specific tasks before they are awarded scholarships. For example, you may be asked to answer survey questions, spin a wheel or share the website link to drive more traffic to the scholarship website
Although you may be tempted to test your chances of winning the financial reward, it is best to know that most lottery-based scholarship websites only aim to generate revenue or traffic to their websites.
Limited Offer Scholarships/Money Back Guarantee
This type of scam can be spotted on scholarship websites that request money from students. They aim to give a sense of urgency with the phrase “Limited Offer” in order to collect applicants’ money.
The above phrase may be backed up by a money-back guarantee to assure students of getting the scholarship award or their money back.
How To Avoid Scholarship Scams
- Take the time to research scholarship websites on Google or public forums like Quora to know more about how the program works as well as their official website.
- Do not entirely avoid congratulatory messages from scholarships you’ve never applied for. This is because some students with high academic profiles tend to get automatically selected to receive scholarship benefits, but the point is to be vigilant enough to avoid revealing sensitive information about yourself.
- Avoid Scholarship programs that seek to take money from you before you’re given financial support.
- Avoid giving out sensitive data such as your social security number or bank information to scholarship organizations via their website, email, or over the phone.
- Avoid being greedy by trying to claim unmerited scholarship awards.
Knowing how to identify fake or dubious scholarship programs can exempt you from different kinds of fraudulent activities. This will prevent you from giving out your data, and money to fake scholarship websites.
You can always spot real scholarships following the guide provided in this publication.