Pell Grants are among the most popular free grants in the country – as a result, they are also the subject of a number of scams. It’s unfortunate to note that a number of people get taken in by fraudulent grant scams each year.
Here are some tips you can keep in mind that will easily help you spot a grant scam.
The Hook, Line, And Sinker
Pell Grant scams are characterized by a few things. First of all, they will assure you that you qualify to receive a free grant and your application is completely guaranteed to be accepted. The best part is that the money never has to be repaid.
While it’s true that Pell Grants don’t have to be repaid, the only way you can apply, much less qualify for these grants is by filling out a FAFSA form. You will never be informed out of the blue that you qualify for funding.
Unfortunately, many people don’t know this and that’s why they end up with the next step – calling up a toll-free number to claim their free Pell Grant.
Once you call this number, you will be put on to a ‘representative’ who will claim to work for the company offering the free grants. They will ask you a number of questions to confirm that you do indeed qualify for the grant.
These questions include asking your address, your bank balance, and how long you’ve lived at your current residence. After a few more questions, the representative will finally say, ‘Congratulations! You qualify for a free Pell Grant.’ All you have to do is pay a processing fee that can range from $95 to $200.
Since the grant amount is guaranteed, many people don’t think twice about forking over the processing fee.
While this is the general routine that these scams follow, there are some other guidelines you can keep in mind, as well. These are general tips that will protect you not from Pell Grants scams, but also from any grant scam.
First of all, remember that the government does not send out unsolicited emails or phone calls saying that you have qualified for a grant. If you come across an ad that you are unsure of, always check its specifications with a legitimate grant source.
Never, ever give sensitive information to a third party. This includes things like social security numbers and credit card numbers.
Bear in mind that all government grants require an application process – there is no way you can qualify for a grant without filling in an application. There are also no fees whatsoever attached to these applications. Remember that scholarships and grants are like loans – they aren’t guaranteed.
So any claims that you are guaranteed a Pell Grant can easily be identified as fraudulent. Many of these cheats will also use very impressive-sounding names and designations in order to hook you. Don’t believe anything they tell you until you verify their claims.
If they are running a grant fraud scam, chances are they will have different names and phone numbers. Always check and verify Pell Grants offers first – they could be fraudulent!