It sounded promising at first. The financial aid seminar that advertised a secret scoop on how to fund your education. The generous scholarship you qualified for without ever applying. But now you suspect the offers may not be legitimate.
So what should you do if you think you're faced with a scam?
1. Protect your wallet. Trust your gut 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 information.
2. Document all your dealings with any company that you suspect of fraud. Include details about the offer, your response and the dates of your 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 conversation.
4. Report them! Any of the following organizations can help:
National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)
Call their toll-free hotline at 1-800-876-7060, submit a complaint online at www.fraud.org or write:
National Fraud Information Center
c/o National Consumers League
1701 K Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006
Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
To report suspected fraud, call 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357), submit a complaint online at www.ftc.gov or write
Federal Trade Commission
600 Pennsylvania Ave, NW
Washington, DC 20580
State Attorney General's Office
File your complaint with the Bureau of Consumer Protection in your state.
Better Business Bureau (BBB)
Council of Better Business Bureaus
4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800
Arlington, VA 22203-1838
U.S. Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)
For complaints involving mail fraud, call the Postal Crime Hotline at 1-800-654-8896, submit a complaint online at www.usps.gov/postalinspectors/fraud/welcome.htm or write:
Inspection Service Operations Support Group
Attention: Mail Fraud
222 S. Riverside Plaza, Suite 1250
Chicago, IL 60606