With all the buzz about student loan payments resuming in October, scammers are hard at work taking advantage of the confusion surrounding the process. As you prepare for repayment to begin, it’s important to get in touch with your loan servicer and take inventory of your loans, interest rates, and payment obligations – all while being mindful of scams.
Spot the Scam
Your first and most important defense against student loan scammers is your ability to recognize their tactics. If you run into any of the following scenarios, stop communicating with the person immediately.
You’re offered help with your student loans, but you must pay. If someone has called, emailed, or texted you to offer student loan assistance services for a fee, it’s a scam. You will never have to pay for help with your federal student aid, including federal student loans. All the information you need to do it yourself for free is available at StudentAid.gov. If you have private loans, reach out directly to your loan servicer for assistance.
You’re asked to share your Federal Student Aid ID login information. Protect this sensitive information just as you would your online banking credentials. Sharing your login information leaves you vulnerable to scammers, who can cut off contact with your loan servicer and steal your identity.
You’re contacted with promises of debt relief or loan forgiveness. A scammer impersonating the Department of Education may contact you with offers of assistance that seem too good to be true. Their communications may seem official, with logos and names that appear to be legitimate. Remember that all your loan repayment, relief, and forgiveness options will be available to you when you log in to your student loan account. Anything outside of that is a scam.
Take it One Step at a Time
Jumping back into student loan repayment after such a lengthy pause isn’t easy. It’s normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed as you evaluate your situation and make a plan. Constant phone calls and emails with offers of “help” don’t make it any easier.
Keep in mind that a common tactic of scammers is to rush you into making a decision. When in doubt, slow down, take a breath, and contact your loan servicer directly for legitimate information about your loans and your repayment options.
If you have been contacted by a student loan scammer, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.