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The student debt relief application is live, and now a few rotten eggs are trying to con people out of money, passwords, Social Security numbers, and bank information. Student loan forgiveness scams are on the rise.
Scammers taking advantage of the student loan forgiveness plan were on the loose before Biden even finalized the decision in September. The Tech Transparency Project investigated in July and found that one in 10 loan forgiveness websites in Google searches were scams.
The official student debt relief application went live on Oct. 17, and the Biden Administration is warning that more bad actors might be looking to take your info and money. The government says they’re cracking down on scammers, but you’ll want to stay on your toes. Here are seven tips you need to avoid student loan forgiveness scams:
1. Only apply on the Federal Student Aid website — any other website is 100% a student loan forgiveness scam.
Beware of fraudulent websites claiming to have the student debt relief application. You can only apply for student loan forgiveness at StudentAid.gov/DebtRelief.
Literally any other website claiming to have the application is a scam.
Tip: Official government or education websites have .gov or .edu at the end, so any website with a .com is a bad sign.
2. It’s free to fill out the application; anyone asking you for money is scamming you.
It won’t cost you anything to apply for student loan forgiveness. Literally the whole point is that the government is trying to provide you with financial relief. It makes zero sense that they’d charge you money.
So if you see a site or an ad advertising the application and asking for a fee, it’s a student loan forgiveness scam.
Now, after you get your loan forgiveness, it’s gonna cost you — in taxes. But that’s totally legal, and it’s a lot better than the student loan totals you’d be paying otherwise.
3. Anybody who claims to be able to get your loan forgiveness approved faster is a fraudster.
Again, you need to know that the student debt relief application doesn’t cost a dime. And there’s no way to pay someone to guarantee your application is approved or get it processed faster. Once you submit your application, these will be the only next steps:
- You’ll receive an email confirmation from the Federal Student Aid (FSA) department.
- They’ll review your application.
- They’ll email you if they need more information.
- Your loan servicer will contact you and let you know if you’re approved.
If anyone contacts you asking for payment to get you ahead of the approval line, it’s someone trying to take your money. There’s no way to get your application looked at faster.
4. You’ll never be asked for your FSA ID, bank account number, or credit card info.
The actual student debt relief application is simple and only asks you for basic information. They don’t ask for your FSA ID, bank account number, or credit card information. You also don’t have to upload a single document.
If you see an application asking you for anything else or to upload anything, steer clear — it’s a scam. Here’s the only info you’ll have to give for the official student debt relief application:
- Birth date
- Phone number
- Social Security number
5. Any emails that don’t come from the US Department of Education are fake.
One of the most common ways scammers try to get you is through fake emails, and it can be tricky. The US Department of Education will mainly contact you through email, and they may ask you for tax documents or other information to verify eligibility. But you’ll want to make sure these emails are authentic.
If loan forgiveness-related messages aren’t coming from these following email addresses, don’t open them:
Scammers will try to create email addresses that look really close to the real deal, so pay attention to missing periods or letters.
6. If anyone other than your loan servicer calls you, it’s a loan scam.
If anyone calls you about the loan forgiveness program and it’s not your loan servicer — it’s a red flag. After you apply, your loan servicer will reach out to tell you if you’re approved.
The US Department of Education will contact you through email. If anyone else calls or texts you regarding the student debt relief application, hang up or don’t reply.
7. If you suspect a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission.
The FTC wants to put these scammers out of business (and in jail), so if you think you might have run into one of these sneaky schemes, report it to the FTC right away on their website.