Spot the Scam: Student Loan Forgiveness
The U.S. Department of Education officially unveiled the application for federal student loan forgiveness Monday, October 17th, 2022. Since the announcement, tens of millions of borrowers who are eligible for debt cancellation are submitting applications and unfortunately this has sparked the interest of scammers. The Federal Trade Commission released a consumer alert on Tuesday, October 18th to be mindful of scams that are trying to steal applicants’ money and personal information.
Spot the Scam:
More than 8 million people applied for relief over the weekend during a short beta test period that began Friday, President Joe Biden said Monday. Criminals are targeting borrowers both before and after they apply.
Here are five red flags that borrowers applying for debt relief should watch out for, according to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
- You’re Applying Somewhere Other Than StudentAid.gov
Don’t give out any information to a third party offering to apply on your behalf. Apply directly at StudentAid.gov/DebtRelief
- There’s a Fee to Apply
If you are being asked for money in order to apply, it is a scam. Anyone who guarantees approval or quicker forgiveness in return for money is absolutely a scam.
- You’re Asked to Upload Financial Documents
The “real” application asks for your name, birth date, social security number, phone, and address. You will never be asked to upload or attach a document. You will not be asked for your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, bank account, or credit card information. Because the relief is basked on income you will be asked to verify your income – but this is done after your application has been processed not at the time that you apply.
- Email Comes From An Odd or Unfamiliar Address
Once you have applied for forgiveness, you should expect an email update from the Education Department. The agency may ask you at this time to upload tax documents verifying your income or will give you updates on your application. These emails will only come from legitimate senders: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pay close attention to the sender’s address. Watch for slight typos and variations of the emails above. If it looks questionable – delete the email and instead log into your account using a secured browser for authentic updates.
- Promises to Help You Qualify, For a Fee
If you receive contact via phone, email, or text offering guaranteed debt relief in exchange for a fee, these people are criminals. If your application is denied, follow the Department of Education’s process. If you have questions, call FSA’s dedicated phone line at 1-833-932-3439.
First National Bank of River Falls is dedicated to protecting and educating all its customers against scams. Contact your banker if you need support.