A number of students have recently received phone calls from a company claiming to be the “United States Government.” The caller asked if the students were interested in federal grants, and then asked for credit card information to pay a $3.87 processing fee to apply. This is a scam.
An up-front fee is never required to apply for federal student financial aid, scholarships, or loans. Students should only apply for federal student financial aid using the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) by visiting fafsa.ed.gov. Remember, the first F in FAFSA stands for FREE.
What to do if you suspect a scam?
If you have received a communication you believe to be a scam, do not provide any information, and promptly alert your financial aid office. Here are some additional tips to help you avoid and report scams.
1. PROTECT YOUR WALLET! Trust your instincts in these situations. If you don’t believe an organization is operating in good faith, don’t let them pressure you into paying for anything or revealing any of your financial or personal information.
2. DOCUMENT ALL INTERACTIONS with any company you suspect of fraud. Include details about the offer, your response, and the dates of communications.
3. TAKE NOTES during any meetings or telephone conversations with these organizations. Record the date, time, place, nature of the conversation, the name of the person with whom you spoke and a detailed account of your communications.
4. REPORT THEM! Any of the following organizations can help:
- FEDERAL TRADE COMMISSION (FTC) To report suspected fraud, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357) or submit a complaint online at: www.ftc.gov
- STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE File your complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection in your state.
- NATIONAL FRAUD INFORMATION CENTER (NFIC) Call their toll-free hotline at 1-800-876-7060or submit a complaint online at www.fraud.org
Carrington College & Carrington College California are working hard to help our students avoid scams, and your vigilance is a key asset in that effort. If you see something, say something. If you suspect a scam, please notify your student finance office immediately.