BBB cautions against student loan debt forgiveness scams

·2 min read

President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that student loan debt would be canceled for millions of Americans who earn less than $125,000 per year.

However, the Better Business Bureau says the decision means an increase in opportunities for scammers.

As student loan holders make their way through the new forgiveness program, the BBB says con artists will take advantage of any confusion they might have.

“It happens with any big government initiative, including the COVID-19 vaccine roll-out, eviction moratorium and pandemic relief programs,” the BBB said.

PREVIOUS: New scam warning for people with student debt

The BBB said to make sure you always do your research before sharing any personal information.

Tips from the BBB on how to avoid student loan forgiveness scams:

  • Get to know the terms of your student loan and the relief program before acting. Always do your research before sharing personal information. Be sure to understand the ins and outs of your specific loan, as well as how student loan relief impacts you. Go straight to official government websites, such as ED.gov and studentaid.gov, for information.

  • Never pay money for a free government program. Scammers often trick victims into paying for free government programs – or they claim you can get additional benefits, faster benefits, etc., for a fee. A real government agency will not ask for an advanced processing fee. These are all red flags of a scam.

  • Be wary of out-of-the-blue calls, emails or text messages claiming to be from the government. In general, the government will not contact you using these methods unless you grant permission.

READ MORE: Student loan forgiveness: How do you know if you are eligible for debt cancellation?

  • Watch out for phony government agencies or programs. If you speak to someone claiming to be a government representative who is offering you student loan relief, do some research before you agree to anything. Scammers often make up look-alike government websites that sound similar to legitimate agencies or programs.

  • Think something seems suspicious? Reach out to the agency directly. If you have any concerns about an alleged government representative’s legitimacy, hang up the phone or stop emailing/texting. Then, report the suspicious calls or messages. Then, find the official contact information (look on ED.gov and studentaid.gov or other official sites) and call to verify.

  • Be careful, even if the information comes from a friend. Even if a close friend or family member you trust sent you the information regarding student loan relief, make sure the claims are real first. During the COVID-19 pandemic, BBB received many reports of hacked social media accounts being used to spread government impostor scams.

(WATCH BELOW: ‘Not fair’: Mother feels left out after many Americans forgiven for federal student loans)