How to avoid letting scammers take control of your student loans

There are no shortage of student loan forgiveness programs, but the same goes for the number of related scams, the Federal Trade Commission warns.

Bad actors think “this is a great time to get out there and take advantage” of people who might be looking for guidance or information on student loan forgiveness to help ease their debt, according to Katherine Aizpuru, an attorney in the FTC’s division of financial practices.

She told WTOP the agency routinely sees scammers contacting people by phone, text and email.

“They will make representations about what they want you to think they’re going to offer you. That may be special access to loan forgiveness or reduced payment programs. So they might say, ‘you just pay us and those payments will go toward your loan,’ when that might not be true,” Aizpuru said.

She said, in some cases, borrowers have given someone access to their personal information. But make sure you never share your Federal Student Aid ID or login information.

“Folks should treat their FSA ID like their Social Security number — keep that to yourself, don’t hand it out over the phone,” Aizpuru said. “Nobody from the Department of Education or a federal servicer is going to be asking you for that information.”

The FTC said scammers will try to rush you into acting by saying the program is available for a limited time, but this is all a scam. You should be cautious if you’re asked to pay a fee upfront over the phone.

The only credible place to get help managing your federal student loans is The FSA, or your federal loan servicer, won’t pressure you to sign up for anything — but a scammer will, the FTC warned.

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Sandra Jones

Sandra Jones is an Anchor/Reporter for WTOP. She’s been in the news industry for more than two decades.

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