7 On Your Side: Scams targeting students - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

7 On Your Side: Scams targeting students

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It's that time of year when students headed to college face deadlines by which they must pay fees, but they are warned to avoid scholarship and loan scams targeting students.

Financial aid and scholarships are important to McNeese Senior Bryce Monteaux. "Most of my money comes from financial aid or scholarships through the band, and I think a lot of people get financial aid that helps them pay for their schooling," he said.

Yet, there are those who target students -- trying to trick them into paying upfront for a scholarship or a loan, and college students can least afford to lose money. 

Student Victoria De Las Casas said to lose money due to a scam would hurt. "I mean it would probably ruin a lot of things for me if somebody were to take any money from me, because it's what I rely on to come here," she said. Monteaux agrees. "Money's pretty tight for college kids," he said.

Carmen Million with the Better Business Bureau of Southwest Louisiana warns students and their parents to steer clear of those who would demand money up front and provide nothing.

"Anytime a company tells you they are going to give you a scholarship or grant or loan and they ask for money up front, that's what we call an advance fee loan, that's a scam. That's illegal," said Million. 

"They should not charge you money upfront. That should be your first warning sign. Whatever you do, don't give them any personal information. You need to get information from them, and of course, contact the Better Business Bureau. Investigate the company first, so you don't give your child's identity out,"said Million. 

Students considering some type of financial aid can bring it to the office at the college or university they plan to attend to ask their experts if the offer is legitimate. 

"We encourage them to check here at the McNeese Financial Aid Office. We do have professionals who would be able to assist them for free," said McNeese Financial Aid Director Taina Savoit. Savoit adds that students should make sure they apply for financial aid through www.fafsa.gov rather than dot com sites that will charge a fee.

"We also have a computer lab where the students are able to do the application at the web site, and if they have problems, we can assist them at that web site," said Savoit.

Again, you should never have to pay a fee upfront for a loan or scholarship.

"They should be giving me money, not the other way around. I just followed the McNeese links on their web site, and it took me to the FAFSA web site and TOPS web site, and I got to sign up everything through there, and it all worked out," said Monteaux.

Getting your credit card or bank account number is never a requirement for a legitimate scholarship.

The McNeese Financial Aid office is open Monday through Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

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