Better Business Bureau warns people about student loan forgiveness scams circulating after President Biden administration’s plan to cut down on student loan debt
TULARE COUNTY – The Better Business Bureau is advising people taking advantage of student loan forgiveness to keep a watchful eye out for scammers who would like to take advantage of them first.
Since the Biden Administration announced their plan to cancel some of the student debt on Aug. 24, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has received reports on their BBB Scam Tracker from people targeted by fake loan forgiveness calls and emails. The reported scams work by targeting students through a call or voicemail, with scammers claiming to represent a new student loan forgiveness program. According to the BBB, the scammer will insist the call recipient needs to complete an online application form asking for personal information like bank account details.
A consumer reported an experience to the BBB Scam Tracker and said her daughter received a voicemail from the “Biden student loan forgiveness program.” When her daughter returned the call, the consumer said she spoke with “Peter,” who asked for her email address and telephone number. He asked the daughter if she was interested in seeing if she qualified for the loan, but when the two prompted him with further questions, the consumer said he became frustrated and ended the phone call.
Other variations of the scam have scammers insisting that students pay an upfront fee or redirect current student loans to payments to them. Someone else targeted by scammers reported to the BBB Scam Tracker that they received a “Final Notice” letter with their student debt amount listed. The consumer said they contacted the organization because they thought the letter was from the federal student loan department. The consumer said the person they contacted, the scammer, directed them to change their password, received their bank account number and had their payments directed to the scammer instead of the proper destination.
According to the BBB, there are ways to be more cautious of loan forgiveness scams and even avoid them entirely. BBB recommends that people understand the terms of their student loans and relief programs before taking action by sharing personal information. People can also go straight to government websites like ED.gov and studentaid.gov for additional information.
BBB also recommends never paying money for a free government program, since scammers will often trick people into paying for additional benefits and a real government agency will not ask for any type of processing fee. People should also be wary of random phone calls, emails and text messages from claiming to be from the government because, generally, government workers will not contact people using these methods unless they have permission.
The bureau also recommends that people keep an eye out for fake government agencies and programs, since scammers will often construct fake, look-alike government websites similar to legitimate agencies or programs. Additionally, people should be careful of student loan forgiveness information regardless if it comes from a trusted source and if something seems suspicious, they should reach out to agencies directly.