As Americans have been struggling through the COVID-19 pandemic, one effort to help is student loan forbearance.
As you might know, President Biden’s administration decided to pause student loan payments for another three months in early January. As a result, repayments will begin after May 1. However, scammers are looking for ways to trick student loan borrowers once payments resume. According to the Federal Trade Commission, scammers are trying to call, text and e-mail borrowers to create confusion about the repayments to steal personal information and money.
How Can You Avoid Student Loan Scams? Here are four tips!
1. Research the Lender
Visit the Better Business Bureau website to read business profiles and check out companies before working with them.
The FTC also has resources on student loan scams at ftc.gov/StudentLoans. If you have been a victim of a suspected scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker. Remember, never pay an upfront fee. It’s illegal for companies to charge you before they help you.
2. Never Pay a Fee Upfront for Help
If you pay upfront to reduce or get rid of your student loan debt, you might not get any help – or your money back. Consumers can apply for loan deferments, forbearance, repayment and forgiveness or discharge programs directly through the U.S. Department of Education or their loan servicer at no cost and do not require a third party. Only scammers promise fast loan forgiveness. Student loan scams can often pretend to be affiliated with the government.
3. Never Give Out Your Personal Information
Never give out your federal student aid ID, Social Security number or other personal information to anyone who contacts you. Student loan scammers posing as student loan servicers can use this information to log into your account, change your contact information and even divert your payments to them. Instead of giving out your FSA ID, call or contact your servicer.
4. Utilize Identity Theft Protection
Identity theft protection makes it easier to spot an issue before it turns into an expensive problem. An identity theft protection service lets you know when suspicious activity and your personal information may have been compromised. You receive an alert, so you can take steps to help secure your accounts. Identity theft protection also includes credit report monitoring to help you receive alerts if someone has taken out fraudulent debt or bills in your name.