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Student loan scams surge as payments resume

With student loan payments resuming this fall, scammers are targeting current and former students by promising to help.
Posted at 6:58 AM, Sep 22, 2023

Current and former college students have been uncertain about student loans for the past few years.

Now that loan payments are about to resume after a 3-year pause, scammers are targeting them, claiming to offer help.

Like so many college students, Jamie Booth is so confused by the on-again, off-again talk of student loan forgiveness.

"I heard that they were doing some forgiveness under President Biden, and then they cut it," she said.

She is mostly correct. Now, she is getting flooded with emails about loan forgiveness programs, but she's skeptical.

"I usually just assume that they are scams," she said.

Who qualifies for the latest student loan relief plan?
Brendan Sullivan, center.

Who qualifies for the latest student loan relief plan?

Student debt forgiveness helped Brendan Sullivan, who is disabled and works at Nellis Air Force Base, obtain new crutches and a wheelchair.

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Warning sign of a loan relief scam

So, what's legitimate and what's not?

Financial attorney Leslie Tayne says any program promising to eliminate your student debt completely isn't real.

"Especially the federal student loan debt," she said. "Given the recent decision by the Supreme Court, currently, there is no program that eliminates in total the student loan debt the way the program was designed."

She says scams come in the form of emails, texts, letters, and increasingly, through posts on social media.

"It might have an eagle on it; it might have a flag on it," Tayne said.

In some cases, Tayne says the scammers may already have some information about you.

"Just because somebody pulls you up and has part of your Social Security number, knows where you went to school, knows any personal information about you, that doesn't make it legitimate," Tayne said.

The best source of information on your federal student loans is StudentAid.gov, where you can enroll in the government's new "Save Plan."

And if you're having difficulty paying, your first step should be to contact your loan servicer, which you can do by connecting through StudentAid.gov.

Tayne says don't pay an outside company for help because your loan servicer can help for free.

Booth is being very careful with all the suspicious offers she gets.

"It's pretty hard to assume that anything will actually end up doing something if it is not through the presidency," she said.

So make sure you are paying your student loans and not scammers.