The National Foundation for Credit Counseling® Warns Consumers of Student Loan Relief Scams
The NFCC® lists four of the top signs associated with scams aimed at student borrowers.
There are over 43 million student loan borrowers in the United States, owing nearly $1.3 trillion dollars of debt. In recognition of National Consumer Protection Week, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) is alerting student borrowers about the warning signs associated with student loan debt relief scams.
“It’s hard enough to finance school, get through it and then manage your debt load once you leave,” said Bruce McClary, spokesperson for the NFCC. “Unfortunately, being targeted for student loan-related scams is one more thing graduates may have to deal with.”
Looks can be deceiving. Official-looking emails or websites are intended to lead people into thinking they are legit. One way to verify that correspondence is from reputable organizations is by checking their Web addresses looking for reviews or complaints online. It’s also worth noting that the Department of Education’s Web pages end in “.gov” not “.com.” Also, the government doesn’t send out email or use advertising to encourage students to take out loans or borrowers to consolidate debt.
Always verify before trusting. The same rules for protecting personal information in all other aspects of life also apply here. Don’t provide information, especially a Federal Student Aid PIN, to someone who calls or writes. Instead, ask for a case number, then call the creditor, bank, credit union, credit card company or lender using their published number. This allows verification that they are actually trying to reach out regarding a problem with an account.
Urgency is a red flag. Whenever pressed to make a quick decision involving a “special offer,” step away and take a hard look at the deal and who is presenting it. Scammers use urgency the same way magicians use colorful distractions—to focus attention away from what they don’t want others to see.
There is no instant solution. While there are many programs that offer forgiveness or cancellation, borrowers need to apply to them directly. There aren’t any middlemen who can negotiate special deals. However, there are certified counselors, like those who work with nonprofit NFCC member agencies, who can help identify opportunities for debt relief and provide guidance toward the right option based on an individual’s unique financial situation.
If suspecting that student information has been compromised, the first call should be to the Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General Hotline 1-800-MIS-USED.
Anyone currently seeking assistance with student loan debt is encouraged to reach out for counseling by contacting the NFCC at 877-406-6322 or online at studentloanhelp.org
About the NFCC
Founded in 1951, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling® (NFCC®) is the nation’s first and largest nonprofit dedicated to improving people’s financial well-being. With 600 member offices serving 50 states and Puerto Rico, our NFCC® Certified Consumer Credit Counselors are financial advocates, empowering millions of consumers to take charge of their finances through one-on-one financial reviews that address credit card debt, student loans, housing decisions and overall money management. Make one of the best financial decisions of your life. For expert guidance and advice, call (800) 388-2227 or visit nfcc.org today.