What is the Scholarship / Financial Aid Scam
When a company promises you a scholarship or grant in exchange for a "processing fee" or "redemption fee" or any other payment upfront, it is a scam. It's tricky because these scam operations disguise themselves and often imitate legitimate government agencies, grant-giving foundations, education lenders and scholarship matching services by using names containing words like "National," "Foundation," or "Administration." What they're really doing is filling out the FAFSA (FREE APPLICATION for FEDERAL STUDENT AID) with false information about your family's income, assets and benefits to qualify you for more financial aid than what you would get when filling this form out truthfully. You not only lose money to the scammers, but can also be fined or receive jail time for any false information on your FAFSA. Never share the user name and password that you use to apply for the FAFSA.
Signs of a Scholarship or Financial Aid Scam
Courtesy of the FTC
Not sure if an offer is a scam? Here’s how to tell. If someone advertises an offer with any of these phrases, or a variation, it’s a scam.
- Scammers say: “The scholarship is guaranteed or your money back.”
- Scammers say: “You can’t get this information anywhere else.”
- Scammers say: “I just need your credit card or bank account number to hold this scholarship.”
- Scammers say: “We'll do all the work. You just pay a processing fee.”
- Scammers say: “The scholarship will cost some money.”
- Scammers say: “You're a finalist [for a contest you never entered].”
Legitimate companies never guarantee or promise scholarships or grants. Protect your personal and financial information and do your research before paying unnecessary fees, putting yourself at risk for being scammed.
9.8.2022 🔻🔻CUSTOMER NOTICE🔻🔻
It has come to our attention that LeadPros sent a mass mailing to some of our customers regarding "your mortgage". The image below is a copy of the postcard some of you may have received. Here's a couple things you need to know.
1. We did not share your personal or banking information with LeadPros. Companies like these purchase mailing lists that include publicly recorded documents such as deeds, mortgages, and releases that are placed on permanent record using the state or county's database.
2. We won't request time sensitive information using a post card mailing. If we need information, our familiar staff will contact you directly. You will be able to verify who we are and that the info we are requesting is legit.
3. You will see our logo with our local mailing address (and possibly other identifiers like our website and local phone number) on all mail coming from Bank of Commerce.
4. Before you panic and call the number listed on correspondence like these, take a look and notice things like those circled below.
🔻The sender made this seem urgent using red ink and bold letters at the top of the listing.
🔻They addressed you by name twice in the postcard making it feel personal.
🔻They listed something familiar to you by using Boc Bank and mentioning your loan.
🔻In the tiniest font they could get away with, the sender included a disclaimer on the bottom that is difficult to notice.
This company is likely trying to "sell" you something you don't need or already have. That's a scam! So, what should you do?
✅Tear it up and throw it away.
✅Definitely don't give them any personal or banking information.
✅You can also give us a call and we would be happy to verify the legitimacy of the mail you received.
Notices like these aren't intended to scare you, but rather make you think before you react. Scammers are sneaky and we are doing our best to keep you informed. THANK YOU to those who have already called in to ask more questions. You are SCAM SMART!
Can You Spot a Phishing Scam?
Every day, thousands of people fall victim to fraudulent emails, texts and calls from scammers pretending to be their bank. And in this time of expanded use of online banking, the problem is only growing worse. In fact, the Federal Trade Commission’s report on fraud estimates that American consumers lost a staggering $1.9 billion to these phishing schemes and other fraud in 2019 — and the ongoing pandemic has only increased the threat. Imagine where we are in 2020.
It’s time to put scammers in their place.
Online scams aren’t so scary when you know what to look for. And at Bank of Commerce, we’re committed to helping you spot them as an extra layer of protection for your account. We’ve joined with the American Bankers Association and banks across the country in a nationwide effort to fight phishing—one scam at a time. We want every bank customer to become a pro at spotting a phishing scam—and stop bank impostors in their tracks. It
starts with these four words: Banks Never Ask That. Because when you know what sounds suspicious, you’ll be less likely to be fooled. These top 3 phishing scams are full of red flags:
• Text Message: If you receive a text message from someone claiming to be your bank asking you to sign in, or
offer up your personal information, it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.
• Email: Watch out for emails that ask you to click a suspicious link or provide personal information. The sender
may claim to be someone from you bank, but it’s a scam. Banks never ask that.
• Phone Call: Would your bank ever call you to verify your account number. No! Banks never ask that. If you’re
ever in doubt that the caller is legitimate, just hang up and call the bank directly at a number you trust.
You’ve probably seen some of these scams before. But that doesn’t stop a scammer from trying. For more tips on how to keep phishing criminals at bay, including videos, an interactive quiz and more, visit www.BanksNeverAskThat.com.
And be sure to share the webpage with your friends and family. What’s Your Scam Score? Take five minutes to become a scamspotter pro by taking the #BanksNeverAskThat quiz at BanksNeverAskThat.com. The more scamspotters out there, the harder it is for phishing criminals to catch their next victim!