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Student loan relief attracting scammers before forgiveness applications open

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Posted at 7:34 AM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 11:20:06-04

The Better Business Bureau said it has received multiple reports of student loan borrowers being targeted by imposter loan forgiveness calls and emails.

The reports came in the days following President Joe Biden’s announcement that public student loan borrowers would receive up to $20,000 in debt forgiveness from the government.

“You receive a call or voicemail from someone claiming to represent a new student loan forgiveness program,” the Better Business Bureau said. “To see if you qualify for forgiveness, the scammer insists that you need to complete an online application form, which asks for personal information, such as your bank account details.”

The BBB is offering the following advice to avoid being scammed:

  • When in doubt, contact the government agency directly. If you receive a message that seems legitimate, but you aren’t sure, stop communicating with the person who contacted you. Then, verify their claims by contacting the government agency they say they represent. For details on the student loan forgiveness program, visit ED.gov or StudentAid.gov.
  • Never pay fees for a free government program. Government agencies will never ask you to pay a fee to benefit from a free government program. Don’t let scammers persuade you otherwise. Con artists may say the fee will get you relief faster or will unlock additional benefits, but that is all part of the scam.
  • Think twice about unsolicited calls, emails, or text messages. Usually, government agencies won’t reach out to you unless you request to be contacted. Out-of-the-blue communications are a red flag.
  • Don’t give in to scare tactics. If someone claims you’ll miss out if you don’t act immediately, be wary. This is an all-too-common tactic scammers use on their victims. Instead of responding, stop communications until you can verify what they say is true.

The federal government said that a form will be available in early October for borrowers to apply for relief. Borrowers will have until the end of 2023 to complete the form to have debt forgiven.