CONSUMER FIRST ALERT: Student loan scams and relief for victims

Updated: Aug. 28, 2022 at 6:00 AM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - State and federal consumer agencies are warning people to look out for student loan scammers looking to capitalize on President Joe Biden’s new debt relief plan.

Biden announced a plan to wipe out part of federal student loan debt for millions of Americans. The plan forgives $10,000 in federal student loan debt for people earning less than $125,000 a year or households earning less than $250,000. The plan cancels $10,000 in debt for those who received federal Pell Grants.

As you wait for more information, beware of anyone trying to charge you to get that debt relief. That would be a scam.

Student loan scammers use social media, text messages and phone calls in efforts to trick victims. Their scripts are pretty convincing. Some make it look like help is coming directly from the government.

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection says scammers will hit as people wait to learn more specifics about the student loan debt relief plan.

“This is where scammers love to prowl, there’s a lot of money at stake. There’s a lot of misinformation and confusion about whether you qualify and that’s when they take advantage of you,” says Lara Sutherlin, Wisconsin DATCP.

“It’s complicated, so people tend to gravitate towards a company that purports to be able to simplify things, have a relationship with the government, can get rid of all your loans together for a small fee.”

Never give out your FSA ID or personal information.

Don’t click on links in emails or messages. The message may look like it’s coming from a friend, but it could be a scammer.

Watch out for lookalike websites that mimic legitimate agencies.

CLICK HERE for more information on spotting a student loan scam.

RELIEF FOR VICTIMS

More than $820,000 is going back to victims of a student loan debt-relief scheme.

The Federal Trade Commission says checks are being sent to victims dating back to 2019.

The FTC says the organization “Student Advocates” and financing company Equitable Acceptance Corporation charged illegal upfront fees they falsely claimed went toward student loans.

The company has been banned from helping with debt-relief services.

In Wisconsin, nearly $15,000 is going back to 265 people. A majority are getting payments of $50-to-$60. That’s a fraction of what victims lost.

It serves as a reminder of why to file a complaint if you’re a victim. A pattern of complaints can result in action.

You will not be required to pay or give account information for a refund.

CLICK HERE for more information.