MEFA Consumer Alert: Student Loan Scams on the Rise as Federal Student Loan Debt Relief Application is Live
BOSTON - Oct 27, 2022 - On October 17, 2022, President Biden formally announced the opening of the federal student loan debt relief application. As the application is now live, MEFA experts are reminding student loan borrowers to be on high alert for increased scam attempts focusing on borrowers who may be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness. You don't have to pay for help with your federal student aid.
How to Spot Scams
The debt relief scams may be an attempt to collect personal and financial data from you or to enroll an individual in high-priced services actually available for free elsewhere. Consumers are urged to avoid falling victim to scams and bad business practices by spotting the warning signs, which include:
- A required fee to pay for help with obtaining student debt cancellation or federal student aid
- A random telephone call offering student loan debt relief, faster repayment, or immediate forgiveness in exchange for an upfront fee
- 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 U.S. 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 username and password, etc.
- An advertisement on social media or search engines
How to Respond to 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. Many of the services being offered for a fee may already be available at no cost from your current student loan servicer. 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 Department of Higher Education will contact borrowers from the following email addresses:
You can report scam attempts to the Federal Trade Commission by calling 1-877-382-4357 or by visiting reportfraud.ftc.gov.
The Federal Trade Commission's resources page has more 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 the Student Debt Relief Plan and avoiding student loan debt relief scams, visit the following:
- Federal Student Aid's website StudentAid.gov/DebtRelief provides the most up-to-date information and is the only place to complete your application for debt relief.
- Studentloanscam.com 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, offers 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, low-cost 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 Twitter @mefatweets and on Facebook at mefaMA.