MEFA Consumer Alert: Be Aware of Student Loan Relief Scams
BOSTON [September 21, 2021] – MEFA is advising student loan borrowers of a recent wave of student loan debt relief scams using high-pressure sales tactics and promising repayment assistance in exchange for upfront fees. Debt relief companies may also claim to have the ability to help borrowers pay off their student loans, or help to pay them off more quickly. For both federal and private student loan borrowers, many of the services being offered may already be available from the borrower's current loan servicer.
The debt relief scams may be an attempt to collect personal and financial data to enroll borrowers in high-priced services actually available for free elsewhere. Consumers are urged to avoid falling victim to a scam or bad business practice by learning the warning signs, which include:
- A random telephone call offering student loan debt relief or immediate forgiveness
- High-pressure sales tactics, such as insisting the borrower needs to act quickly on a limited-time offer
- Individuals misrepresenting themselves as having a legitimate relationship with the Department of Education or one of the federal student loan servicers
- A request for personal and financial information, such as loan debt amount, Social Security number, loan account user name and password, etc.
- An advertisement on social media or search engines
To avoid debt relief scams, MEFA advises consumers to take the following steps:
- Never provide personal or financial information over the phone, unless it is a call initiated by you, and you are confident of the identity of the person on the phone.
- Research the company and services being offered to determine legitimacy.
- Contact your student loan servicer and ask if they provide the services being offered by the debt relief company.
- Do not agree verbally to any debt services, and review documents closely to fully understand the details and cost.
- Keep complete records of communications and documents with any company providing loan services.
The Federal Trade Commission's resources page has information on avoiding scams, steps to take if you were scammed, and instructions on how to report fraud, scams, and bad business practices. For additional information on avoiding student loan debt relief scams, visit the following:
- Federal Student Aid's Avoiding Student Aid Scams, which gives tips on how to identify a debt relief scam
- Studentloanscam.com, which has information on spotting debt relief scams and what to do if you have been scammed
- American Education Services' page, Beware of "Debt Relief" Organizations, which provides guidance around identifying debt relief scams.
MEFA is a state authority, not reliant on state or federal appropriations, established under Massachusetts General Laws, Chapter 15C. MEFA's mission, since its founding in 1982, has been to help Massachusetts students and families access and afford higher education and reach financial goals through education programs, tax-advantaged savings plans, fixed-rate loans, and expert guidance. All of MEFA's work aligns with the ever-present goal to support the independence, growth, and success of Massachusetts students and families. Visit mefa.org to learn more or follow MEFA on X (formerly Twitter) @mefatweets and on Facebook at mefaMA.