Scam Alert: Student Loan Debt “Relief”
It’s sad but true that scammers are alive and well, and their tactics are made all the easier today because of technology. The very same internet and social media sites that help you learn, work, shop, and stay in touch with friends can be used against you by scammers. This is not meant to scare anyone away from using the internet, but this article is intended to offer you caution and education about scammers and their ways.
One of the biggest scams out there that targets students and graduates of postsecondary education institutions is the student loan debt relief scam. Student loan debt is rising across the country, and scammer prey on people of all ages who may be burdened by this debt.
Not all student loan debt relief programs are scams, so here is some information about how the scams work and what they’re looking for. We want our students and graduates – and students of every educational institution – to take steps to be as safe as possible from these predatory tricks.
They say that nothing is private any more, and in today’s world of technology and the internet, this is a fairly accurate statement. Your social media profiles and your internet browsing history tell data collectors about your habits, interests, purchases, and more.
There’s nothing inherently illegal about this practice, and don’t let this “data collection” idea scare into never going online again. In fact, data collection has been around since long before the internet, in the form of marketing techniques and demographic research.
What this data collection and target marketing means as it relates to student loan debt is that scammers have access to the same information about you that legitimate companies and organizations do. If you’re a student or a graduate (or even if you attended an educational institution but didn’t complete the program or receive a degree), then unfortunately that makes you a target for these scammers.
Free versus “free”
Scammers use enticing language, preying upon the fear and desperation that many feel who are burdened by high student loan debt. These scams usually appear in the form of ads, frequently on your favorite social media site (the same way legitimate ads for products similar to ones you’ve purchased might appear). “Free assessment!” “Student loan debt relief!” “Student loan forgiveness!” are some of the phrases used to draw you in.
The way these scammers make money is by charging you for false services, like a phone consultation with a “debt counselor,” or charging to assist you with applying for a federal loan relief program. This usually results in nothing for the student loan holder, except for paying hundreds (and sometimes even thousands) of dollars and no relief for the loan debt.
It’s important to know that federal loan relief programs do actually exist, and they truly are free to apply for. You do not need a “debt counselor” nor do you need to pay a large sum of money to apply for a government loan relief program. Of course there is no guarantee that you may be eligible for one of these government relief programs, but it costs you nothing to apply.
Check out this page on the U.S. Department of Education’s website about federal student loan debt relief.
Protecting our Students
Central Coast College like other postsecondary education institutions cannot protect you from these scammers unless you ask us for advice or help. The only people who can really assist you with your loan debt are the U.S. Department of Education and the Loan Servicer that is handling your government loan. If what you are being told “seems too good to be true” it probably is not true and you should contact your school financial aid office and they will give you contact numbers for your loan servicer or the U.S. Department of Education where you can go for free advice.
Here is a link to an article from the Career Education Review by an attorney who is familiar with the scammers and the harm they can do to students and schools.
To view Central Coast College’s full disclosures, click here.