University is an expensive investment. But you already know that. Take a look at how many Americans are in debt thanks to the high amount of student loans they have accumulated.
Due to the pandemic, the federal government has temporarily suspended the repayment of these loans. For now, this break is in effect until May 1. But it doesn’t matter when that break finally expires – scammers take advantage of anxious and indebted citizens.
For this week’s Mid-Valley Scam Alert, we’re talking about all things student loan repayment scams. In a March edition of the FBI Oregon Tech Tuesday segment, the agency offered some tips for avoiding falling victim to this particular type of fraud.
Scammers and scammers will try to contact you via text, email or phone call/voicemail with the aim of tricking you into disclosing sensitive information. They will likely tell you about quick and easy ways to consolidate or eliminate your student loans.
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For example, a fraudster might say, “This is (insert name) student loan assistance. Our records show that you were eligible for a loan forgiveness program, but you never completed the required paperwork. If you want to pursue this app, we need to talk to you today. Call us please.”
If there’s one thing I hope we’ve all learned from reading these scam alerts, it’s this: Be suspicious of any message from an unknown sender that asks for personal information and/or financial.
If you’re unsure whether a message is legitimate or not, consider these tips from the Federal Trade Commission:
- Never pay upfront fees. It is illegal for companies to charge you before helping you. Keep in mind that you never have to pay for help from the Department of Education.
- Never give out your Federal Student Aid ID number, Social Security number, or other personal information to anyone who contacts you. Scammers can use this information to log into your account, change your details and/or redirect your payments to them.
- If in doubt, contact your student loan officer directly.
- Don’t sign up for a quick loan forgiveness. Bad actors might say they can get rid of your loans before they even know the details of your situation. They might also promise a loan forgiveness program, which you won’t qualify for.
- Scammers often use fake seals and logos to trick people into believing the message is credible. They will promise special access to repayment plans, new federal loan consolidations or loan forgiveness programs.
- If you have federal student loans, go directly to the Department of Education at www.StudentAid.gov.
Debt can be a heavy burden, and there are many people who will simply follow orders in financial matters. After all, you definitely don’t want to get into legal trouble. But it is necessary to take a step back and examine the situation from all angles before giving your crucial information.
No one wants to fall victim to a scam scheme, so as always, proceed with caution when it comes to monetary matters.
If you are the victim of a student loan scam, report it to the FTC at www.ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Maddie Pfeifer covers public safety for Mid-Valley Media. She can be reached at 541-812-6091 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter via @maddiepfeifer_