Borrowers need to watch out. Scammers online have begun a concentrated effort to defraud student loan borrowers, using every dirty trick in the book. These scams include everything from phishing tricks to full-blown gift card schemes. Here’s what you need to know about these student loan forgiveness scams.
US President Joe Biden recently announced an upcoming government program that will allow borrowers with federal student loans to have up to $10,000 of their loans forgiven. This program isn’t live yet, so the public doesn’t know how to apply or sign up for this forgiveness. When the program goes live, it will likely be clearly communicated to borrowers so they can receive debt forgiveness.
In the meantime, though, excitement about the prospect of having $10,000 in debt erased has sent many borrowers to the internet to look for more information. Scammers have jumped on this chance to fill an information vacuum with scam attempts. Here are a few common student loan relief scams you need to be aware of.
The most common form of a scam relating to student loan forgiveness is the classic phishing scam. Criminals will send you an email or text claiming that you can apply for loan forgiveness by following a simple link and using your username and password to sign up for a relief program. Be wary of any emails with links that take you to unusual-looking websites.
Always check the URL box of any website you end up on. If the URL looks odd, you could be looking at a convincing fake. If you put your personal information into a site like this, odds are good that you’re simply handing a scammer all of your private information.
Scammers love getting their victims to send them prepaid gift cards. If you get an email or call from someone who claims to be able to make your student loans go away, be suspicious. They might ask you to pay a “processing fee” by sending them a gift card code to “free up the funds” and have your loans erased.
This is a very plain scam. The moment anyone you’re talking to on the phone or over email asks you to send them a gift card, you know you’re dealing with a criminal. Never buy prepaid gift cards for someone on the phone, and you should especially never send any gift card codes over the internet. Once the code is away, the money is gone forever, and there’s nothing law enforcement can do about it.