Beware Debt Relief Scams
August 25, 2022
With the government unveiling its sweeping new student loan forgiveness plan, millions of Americans are going to be looking for a piece of the debt relief package. This is the ideal setting for scammers to swoop in and take advantage of people's eagerness, tricking them into giving up sensitive personal and financial information.
You may be asking yourself "what do I have to do to claim this student loan relief?" You can read the full statement from the White House about the loan forgiveness program here https://studentaid.gov/debt-relief-announcement/
Before you click any email links or enter personal information into unfamiliar websites claiming to be official government pages, here are some tips to keep yourself ahead of the scammers trying to steal your identity.
Subscribe to official email updates from the Department of Education. As part of their announcement of the debt relief plan, the White House has set up a website where you can register to be notified when the loan forgiveness process officially opens. If you are seeking Public Service Loan Forgiveness, visit PLSF.gov to learn more and apply.
Never click on links from unexpected emails. If you haven't signed up for official updates from the Department of Education and you receive an official-looking email regarding student debt relief, don't reply or open any attachments. Before clicking any links, mouse over the link to see if the address pop-up contains a legitimate .gov URL.
Don't email personal and/or financial information. Email systems are not encrypted; therefore, emails should not contain confidential information. If you are asked to visit a website to provide personal or financial information, you should instead visit https://studentaid.gov/ to confirm the loan forgiveness process is officially open; this is the official website of the debt relief program and any application process will be located here.
Don't be fooled by urgent requests. The government will provide a very clear timeline well in advance of any cutoff date for applications. If you receive an email emphasizing the urgency of filling out an application and/or submitting information, this is most likely a scammer trying to take advantage of you.
Ignore anyone asking for money in exchange for debt relief. The government's debt relief program is entirely funded by taxpayers and will not require you to send money to anyone.
If you think you or someone you know have been the target of a scam, you should contact your financial institution as well as contact the FTC.