Sept. 29, 2023
Carson City, NV – In the United States, approximately 43 million people are saddled with roughly $1.6 trillion dollars in federal student loan debt. Millions of Americans will continue the loan repayment process when the three-year COVID-19 pandemic pause in federal student loan repayments ends and student loan repayments begin in October of 2023.
“At the Office of the Nevada Attorney General, the protection of Nevada consumers is our number one priority,” said AG Ford. “The continuance of student loan repayments can leave uninformed borrowers vulnerable as they navigate through loan repayment process. Scammers, unfortunately, will use these changes to develop schemes to swindle borrowers out of money or personal identifying information.”
Whether you will begin the loan repayment process again yourself or you know someone who will, Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford cautions Nevadans to be aware of potential scams and tips on how to protect yourself.
You Don’t Have to Pay for Help with Your Federal Student Loans
Many student loan debt relief companies charge a fee to provide services, However, the U.S. Department of Education works with private companies called federal loan servicers to handle the billing and other services on borrowers’ federal loans. Borrowers can contact their federal loan servicer or lender for free assistance for the following services:
- Lowering their monthly payments;
- Changing their repayment plan;
- Consolidating multiple federal student loans;
- Postponing monthly payments while borrowers further their education or become unemployed;
- Seeing if borrowers qualify for loan forgiveness or other programs; and
- Getting loans out of default.
Beware of Student Loan Debt Relief Companies
Borrowers have reported receiving phone calls, emails, letters or texts offering them relief from their federal student loans. The fraudsters hold themselves out to be student loan debt relief companies who pretend to assist borrowers with determining their eligibility for student loan forgiveness for a fee. But these debt relief companies often don’t offer any relief at all. Not only may you be cheated out of your hard-earned money, but these companies may make changes to your student loans you did not know about or authorize, which could increase your balances or damage your credit.
One such potential scam consumers should be aware of concerns the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program. In this scam, perpetrators purport to be student loan debt relief companies who pretend to assist borrowers with determining their eligibility for student loan forgiveness for a fee. However, borrowers should be cautious as the government offers these services for free.
Additionally, be on the lookout for scammers who will misrepresent facts surrounding the termination of the student loan pause or the recent Supreme Court ruling. Scammers may even promote a “special program” whereby you can continue the pause on your loans or be eligible for additional forgiveness in exchange for a “small fee.” The scammer may ask you for your full name, social security number and other personally identifying information under the guise of helping you, only to use that information to steal from you later.
Follow these additional tips from the Office of the Nevada Attorney General to protect yourself against student loan scams:
- Never provide your social security number or other personal identifying information to anyone without first verifying the person or company is legitimate.
- If you are contacted by a debt relief company, do not immediately engage their services. Investigate the company and check what you are able to do for free at Federal Student Aid, which is an Office of the U.S. Department of Education at https://studentaid.gov/.
- If you have been a victim of a student loan scam, you may file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education OCR@ed.gov. Include as much information as possible with your complaint, including any information you have about the person or entity that contacted you such as names and phone numbers.
If you have been a victim of any of the scams discussed above, you may also file a complaint with the Office of the Nevada Attorney General here. Include as much information as possible with your complaint, including any information you have about the person or entity that contacted you such as names and phone numbers.