College Scholarship Scams Land Atlanta Students in Even More Debt

Would you go back to school if Uncle Sam promised to foot the bill?

A lot of Americans are saying yes to scholarships. Unfortunately, they might also be saying yes to scam artists - and debt.

Scams have been popping up with ever-increasing frequency since the economy took a major nosedive in 2008. And one of the most common scams promises college scholarships and grants to certain demographic groups - for instance, those making less than $30,000 a year (give or take), stay-at-home moms or for the recently unemployed.

Problem is, the offers are often traps. Scam artists ask for a processing fee - or your personal information - and when you comply, they take your money and disappear, leaving you in more financial trouble than before.

So how can you tell if a scholarship is designed to save your money - or steal your money? If it seems like too sweet of a deal, you should be suspicious.

Your first clue? Any program that asks for money or financial information upfront. The point of a scholarship or grant is to provide financial aid, not make profits.

Also be wary of heavy advertising - for instance, people who call you at home to offer you money or ads that pop up online asking you to take a survey to determine whether you're eligible for government grants. Why would a government assistance program - or any program intended to give away money, for that matter - spend millions advertising on the Internet?

Lastly, most scholarships require something - for example, a history of good grades or athletic ability. If all you have to do is fill out some online quiz, you're probably being duped. After all, if it were that easy to get money for school, everybody's brother would be applying for and receiving government loans - which is not the case.

The bottom line is, you should be wary of any deal that sounds too good to be true, whether it's promising you grant money, a bigger tax refund or an easy paycheck. When in doubt, do the research. Google the company making the offer. Check the Better Business Bureau. And if you think they're up to no good, notify the authorities.

If you find yourself falling victim to scams, it's a sure sign you're in financial trouble - most likely because of too much debt. Bankruptcy is often the most effective way to start paying down debt, putting you on the path to financial independence. So your money is less likely to fall into the hands of scam artists - not to mention creditors. Want to know if bankruptcy is right for you? It's free to find out when you sign up for a one-on-one debt analysis with an Atlanta bankruptcy attorney.

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