The Better Business Bureau serving the Canton and Greater West Virginia area offers tips and advice for consumers to avoid fraudulent practices.
Student loan holders, beware of cold calls. The rollout of the Biden administration’s plan (studentaid.gov/debt-relief-announcement) to forgive some federal student loan debt has begun, and scammers are finding compelling ways to take advantage of any confusion. Victims tell BBB.org/ScamTracker about a loan forgiveness scam where the caller has their social security number, graduation date, and even federal student aid information.
How the scam works
You receive a call or voicemail from someone claiming to represent the new student loan forgiveness program. The scammer insists he can help you get tens of thousands of dollars in loan forgiveness. According to a recent report by BBB.org/ScamTracker, the scammer promised to erase $60,000 from the victim’s student loan — an amount far beyond the Biden administration’s plan (studentaid.gov/manage-loans /forgiveness-cancellation/debt-relief-info). These callers have a compelling amount of information as well as “all sorts of numbers and numbers to tell you what you’re going to save,” according to recent reports from BBB Scam Tracker. A report said the caller “not only had my email address but also the name of the school I attended and the last 4 digits of my social security number.” Another victim reported that the scammers “somehow knew my FAFSA account information and tricked me into thinking they were working in conjunction with the loan forgiveness program.” In most versions of this scam, the caller insists that you have to pay them an upfront fee – usually several hundred dollars spread over a few months – followed by smaller monthly payments. Then, when the current loan forgiveness program pause ends, your loan will be forgiven. Unfortunately, these scammers have no connection to the official student debt relief plan. Everything you pay will go into the pockets of scammers and do nothing to help ease your student loans.
How to Avoid Student Loan Forgiveness Scams
- If in doubt, contact the government agency directly. If you receive a message that seems legitimate, but that you are not sure about, stop communicating with the person who contacted you. Then verify their claims by contacting the government agency they say they represent. For more details on the student loan forgiveness program, visit ED.gov or StudentAid.gov.
- Never pay a fee for a free government program. Government agencies will never ask you to pay a fee for a free government program. Don’t let scammers convince you otherwise. The scammers may say that the fee will relieve you faster or unlock additional benefits, but that’s part of the scam.
- Think twice about unsolicited calls, emails or texts. Usually, government agencies will not contact you unless you ask. Impromptu communications are a red flag.
- Don’t give in to scare tactics. If someone claims you’ll miss out if you don’t act immediately, beware. This urgency is an all too common tactic that scammers use on their victims. Instead of responding, stop communications until you can verify what they say is true.
For more information
Get more solid advice by reading the BBB Tip: Student Loan Forgiveness is here. Here’s how to avoid scams on bbb.org. For more information on federal student loan repayment options, visit the official government website, StudentAid.gov; this is the best way to determine if you qualify for loan forgiveness and how to receive it.
For information BBB
Visit BBB.org/canton or call 330-454-9401 to find a business, file a complaint, write a customer review, read tips, find our events, follow us on social media, and more.