School is closed for the year, but for millions the bills keep rolling in. More than 43 million Americans are paying off their student loans, and each of them is eager to do so as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, this eagerness creates an opportunity for scammers.
These scams usually start with a “debt relief expert” offering you an unsolicited offer to help you navigate state and federal programs to help you reduce or restructure your debt. This “offer” may include instant and easy-to-access loan cancellation options, sometimes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Next comes the red flag. These scam offers all ask for payment or personal information such as a social security number or your student aid login information.
If you are a student borrower, there are two important things to know. First of all, there’s nothing these companies can search for you that you can’t legitimately find for free on your own. Second, it’s illegal for debt relief companies to collect payment from you before you get results, so upfront fees are a sure sign of a scam.
Report scams to local law enforcement. For help from AARP, call 1-877-908-3360 or visit the AARP Fraud Watch Network at www.aarp.org/fraudwatchnetwork.