Postcards offering empty promises and hidden fees are filtering into the homes of college-bound Idaho students, the state attorney general’s consumer protection unit warns.
And watch out for those telephone sales pitches from a Georgia company promising thousands of dollars in scholarships, grants and financial aid, investigators say.
The consumer protection unit recently launched an investigation into College Assistance Planning in Atlanta. The telephone solicitor might be trying to bilk money from families across the state, according to documents filed in 4th District Court this week.
“Often the representations are that, ‘We’ll get you a guaranteed $2,000 per year,’ and what they end up with is a generic address list,” Deputy Attorney General Brett DeLange said.
Although the Georgia company says it offers a full refund if the student does not receive at least $1,000 in financial aid, it fails to mention a non-refundable $69 processing fee, DeLange said. The company asks for $199 before it will send out information.
“Almost all of these services will promise a refund, but before you get it you have to jump through a whole bunch of hoops - like write to everyone on the list and produce all of those rejection letters,” he said. “That’s a daunting task if you’re talking about a list with 5,000 names.”
Last Dec. 12, a consumer protection unit investigator posing as the mother of a college-bound student called College Assistance Planning in response to one of the company’s postcards.
The postcards try to convince parents that their child’s eligibility for college scholarships, grants and financial aid programs is linked to their receipt of the mailing, investigator Lynette Berggren said in a signed affidavit filed Tuesday.
A Georgia attorney for College Assistance Planning said the company had done nothing wrong, and he questioned the Idaho attorney general’s authority.
“It is my opinion that Idaho does not have jurisdiction over CAP,” attorney Mark Weber wrote in a Feb. 21 letter to DeLange, asking him not to pursue the investigation.
But Weber said the company would cooperate.