Student debt relief scams

Published 6:07 am Thursday, June 23, 2022

School is out for the year, but for millions the bills keep on coming. More than 43 million Americans are paying off student loans and every one of them is eager to do so as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this eagerness creates an opportunity for scammers.

These scams typically start with a “debt relief expert” reaching out with an unsolicited offer to help navigate through state and federal programs to help you reduce or restructure your debt. This “offer” may include instant, easy-to-access loan forgiveness options, sometimes connected to the COVID-19 pandemic. Then comes the red flag. These fraudulent offers all ask for payment or personal information such as a Social Security number or your student aid login information.

If you are a student borrower, there are two important things to know. First there’s nothing that these companies can research for you that you can’t legitimately find for yourself for free. Second, it is illegal for debt relief companies to collect payment from you before they get results, so upfront fees are a surefire sign of a scam.

Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.