In the United States, students have been given a reprieve from repaying heavy federal student loans during the pandemic as the government halts repayments. The deal was originally due to expire in January 2022, but has been extended until May.
But as students prepare to get their finances in order, cybercriminals are on the prowl. Tap or click here for seven new scams to watch out for.
Read on to find out how scams are on the rise and what you can do about them.
Here is the backstory
Scammers are now targeting victims with a new set of student loan programs. And to make matters worse, you don’t even need to have student loans to be targeted.
This is how schemas usually start. The thieves pose as helpful student loan officers, to walk away with the victim’s money. Such a scam comes in many forms and usually starts with a phone call.
According to NPR, criminals randomly call people offering help in getting their loans forgiven. To do this, the crooks ask for the victim’s private details such as banking information, credit card details or social security number.
As usual, criminals want to instill a sense of urgency. “This message comes from the Ministry of Education. All student loan forgiveness programs will be stopped immediately. For you to qualify, you must apply within the next 24 hours,” NPR reports in one of the voicemails received.
What can you do about it
Student loan scams are getting so serious that the FTC recently issued a warning. He said criminals are calling, texting and emailing trying to use any confusion around restarting your student loan payments to steal your money and personal information.
If you get a call, text, email, or social media post from someone about student loans, here are ways to avoid falling victim to it:
- Never pay upfront fees – It is illegal for companies to charge you before helping you. If you prepay to reduce or get rid of your student loan debt, you may not get help or be reimbursed. Also remember that there is nothing a company can do for you that you can’t do yourself. free. And you never have to pay for help from the Department of Education.
- Protect sensitive information – Never give out your Federal Student Aid ID number, Social Security number, or other personal information to anyone who contacts you. Scammers posing as student loan officers can use this information to log into your account, change your contact information, and even redirect your payments to them. Instead of giving your FSA ID, call or contact your repairer.
- Avoid fast loan forgiveness – Scammers might claim they can eliminate your loans before they know the details of your situation. Or they might promise a loan forgiveness program that most people wouldn’t qualify for. They might even say that they will destroy your loans by disputing them. But they can’t.
- Watch out for identity theft – Scammers use fake seals and logos to lure people. They promise special access to repayment plans, new federal loan consolidations or loan forgiveness programs. This is a lie. If you have federal loans, go directly to the Department of Education at StudentAid.gov.
If a scammer contacts you, report them at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
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