Good news: The applying for student loan debt relief is finally here.
Federal borrowers earning less than $125,000 are eligible for debt forgiveness of up to $10,000. Pell Grant recipients can also get an additional $10,000 rebate.
Now for the bad news: Within days of the application process launching on October 14, scammers were already attempt to take advantage of people seeking student debt relief. In fact, some social media users have started sharing their own experiences with these scammers.
Based on the online conversation surrounding these scammers, it appears that the most prevalent student loan assistance scam right now is that of cold callers. Borrowers receive unsolicited phone calls offering fast debt relief…for a fee, of course.
In fact, cold calling is so prevalent that President Biden, even specifically drew attention to these scams in its Monday announcement about opening the application for student loan debt relief.
Don’t forget that you have to fill out the form yourself. If someone comes to you to “inform” you about the program, it’s a scam.
Here are some things borrowers should do to stay safe and avoid these scams.
It’s quick and easy to apply
Borrowers who wish to apply do not need to dig up and submit years-old student loan documents.
The app asks for a few simple things that almost everyone knows by heart: your full name, date of birth, phone number, social security number, email address, and confirmation that you’re earning under 125. $000 to qualify for assistance. That’s it. If borrowers are asked to provide other details, such as a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID, bank or credit card information, they are on the wrong website and dealing with a scammer .
The official relief form literally takes minutes to complete. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has listing three official help-related email addresses that you might see appear in your inbox in the agency’s warning notice to borrowers:
If you receive an email from an address other than these, it is not legitimate. Also, be sure to double-check the spelling, as scammers like to take advantage of similar-looking URLs and email addresses in their schemes.
Ask for zip relief fee, zero, zilch, nada
Scammers are obviously after money, so their student loan relief programs usually involve recurring payments of some form to claim forgiveness. Don’t be fooled.
The student loan relief program is absolutely free to apply and the form is also very easy to fill out. Anyone offering a loan assistance service is simply scamming them.
“If you get a call claiming they are from the government trying to help [you] with your loans, let’s be clear: hang up,” President Biden told borrowers on Monday. “You never have to pay federal aid for the student loan program.”
No, there is no way to speed up the process
More than eight million people have already applied for student loan relief since the application went live last Friday. That’s a lot of applicants and probably means a long wait.
And that was just during the “beta” phase of the rescue process.
Some scammers weaponize this wait time by dangling the lure of instant gratification, telling borrowers they can speed up the application process. The FTC even specifically mentioned these scammers in its warning to borrowers seeking student debt relief.
Let’s be clear: there is no fast-track procedure. These scammers simply seek to extract money from people for a non-existent service that they cannot provide.
“As people file their applications, the Department of Education will review them as they go,” the FTC said in a statement. statement on student relief scams. “Take a little patience and go through the process.”
If officials are already aware of these new scams just days after the app went live, then you know the problem must be serious.
Yes, $10,000 to $20,000 in debt relief is a lot. But you will need to be patient with the application process. This means that you are going to have to wait a bit. But at least you won’t spend years repaying those loans.
If you are looking for student loan forgiveness, just go to StudentAid.gov and apply by December 31, 2023. The application is quick and easy to complete. And remember: you don’t have to pay anything.