What the Tech? Student Loan Forgiveness May Lead to Scams

By JAMIE TUCKER Consumer Technology Reporter

Even if you don’t have a student loan, you’ve probably gotten a phone call from a scammer saying they can help you take care of it.

These scams have been around for years and you can bet scammers will use the new Student Loan Forgiveness Program to take money from people who are hoping to get their loans forgiven.

The Federal Trade Commission warns consumers about similar scams and how they work. In the case of student loan scams, they often operate by tricking people into paying upfront fees.

Some of these scams may come through e-mail but many spam blockers send those emails directly to a trash or spam folder. Phone calls and texts are easy to send and seldom blocked.

The calls may not be a typical robocall where no one speaks until after you pick up and stay on the line. Student loan scam calls often have a real person on the other end of the line.

The scammer will sound professional and maybe even call you by name. They’ll give you a case number which will further give the impression it is legitimate.

The FTC warns student loan scammers will offer to speed up your loan forgiveness applications or immediately process your application which is false. They’ll ask you to pay upfront fees to get the process started.

The scammer may also claim to have a connection with the Department of Education to expedite the process but the FTC warns third-party companies to have no such connections.

In 2017, the FTC sued the company Student Debt Doctor in “Operation Game of Loans”, and last month sent checks to nearly 23,000 victims who lost money to the scam. The only way to get information on your loan forgiveness is by going to the government’s website www.studentaid.gov but due to a surge in traffic volume, the site has frequently been overloaded with visitors and does not work.

Other warnings from the FTC:

● Only scammers promise fast loan forgiveness.
● Never pay an upfront fee.
● Scammers can fake email addresses and government seals to look official.
● Do not share your FSA or FAFSA ID number.

There is no urgency for people to apply for student loan forgiveness. Part of the plan announced this week also extended a pause of student loan payments through the end of the year and an application to apply for the program will not be available for a few weeks.

To report scams to the FTC, visit its dedicated website, www.ftc.gov/complaint

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