Don't Fall for Scholarship Scam

Several consumers have recently contacted us to say that they paid $1000 to a company called the College Funding Center that promised to help find scholarship opportunities. The company has apparently gone out of business, and the consumers have gotten absolutely nothing for their money. When a family is struggling to pay for tuition, books, room and board, the last thing they need is to lose $1000. Consumers who have made payments to the College Funding Center are advised to fill out our online consumer complaint form at www.oag.state.tx.us/consumer/complain.shtml. We will forward your information to the Federal Trade Commission. You can read the FTC's AMENDED COMPLAINT FOR PERMANENT INJUNCTION AND OTHER EQUITABLE RELIEF against the College Advantage, Inc. (dba the College Funding Center) at http://www.ftc.gov/os/2003/07/collegeadvcmp.pdf.

While some companies may offer legitimate scholarship-finding services, be aware that rip-offs in this area are common. If you are considering doing business with a company, do not allow yourself to be pressured into a hasty decision. Do some research about the company (for example, ask a guidance counselor or inquire at the college or university you are considering attending). And remember that no legitimate company would promise or guarantee that they can get anyone a scholarship. Read more about this kind of scam, and how to avoid it, on the Federal Trade Commission's website at www.ftc.gov/scholarshipscams.

General Abbott's signature
Greg Abbott
Attorney General of Texas

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ABOUT CONSUMER ALERTS - The Office of the Attorney General accepts consumer complaints about businesses. When a pattern of complaints warrants intervention, the Attorney General can file a civil lawsuit under consumer protection statutes, sometimes with the result that a company is required to pay restitution to consumers -- see our Major Lawsuits page. However, when a consumer is swindled by a con artist, filing a complaint cannot help. Civil litigation can sometimes put a very unscrupulous business out of action, but often cannot produce restitution.

Individual con artists generally fall under the jurisdiction of a criminal prosecutor -- in Texas, this is the district or county attorney. But even when they are charged and convicted, these individuals usually have spent the money as fast as they have stolen it. A person who is the victim of fraud should report the incident to the police or sheriff. But by far the best thing is for consumers to be aware of fraud, so they are not swindled in the first place. For this reason, the Office of the Attorney General posts these Consumer Alerts about possible scams and schemes that come to our attention through citizen contacts to our office or other sources.

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