What is Tech? Student loan forgiveness can lead to scams

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By JAMIE TUCKER Consumer Technology Reporter

Even if you don’t have a student loan, you’ve probably received a phone call from a scammer saying they can help you deal with it.

These scams have been around for years, and you can bet the scammers will use the new student loan forgiveness program to squeeze money out of people hoping to get their loans forgiven.

The Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers about similar scams and how they work. In the case of student loan scams, they often work by tricking people into paying an upfront fee.

Some of these scams may come from emails, but many spam blockers send these emails directly to a trash or spam folder. Phone calls and text messages are easy to send and rarely blocked.

Calls may not be a typical robocall where no one speaks until you pick up and stay on the line. Fraudulent student loan calls often have a real person on the other end of the line.

The scammer will look professional and may even call you by your name. They will give you a case number which will make it look even more legitimate.

The FTC warns that student loan scammers will offer to expedite your loan forgiveness applications or immediately process your false application. They will ask you to pay an upfront fee to start the process.

The scammer can also pretend to have a connection to the Department of Education to speed up the process, but the FTC warns third-party companies not to have such connections.

In 2017, the FTC sued Student Debt Doctor in “Operation Game of Loans,” and last month sent checks to nearly 23,000 victims who lost money to the scam. The only way to get information about your loan forgiveness is to go to the government website www.studentaid.gov but due to an increase in the volume of traffic, the site was often overloaded with visitors and does not work.

Other FTC warnings:

● Only scammers promise quick loan forgiveness.
● Never pay upfront fees.
● Scammers can fake email addresses and government seals to look official.
● Do not share your FSA or FAFSA identification number.

There is no rush for people to apply for student loan forgiveness. Part of the plan announced this week also extended a pause in student loan payments until the end of the year and an application for the program will not be available for a few weeks.

To report scams to the FTC, go to its dedicated site, www.ftc.gov/complaint

About Harold Shirley

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