With Loan Forgiveness Applications rolling out full steam ahead, it's time to beware the loan forgiveness scammers.
That's right, in this blog we will be going over the FBIs scammer warning to anyone applying for student loan forgiveness. The cybercriminals are out to play.
Let's get into it.
FBI Warning to Anyone Applying for Loan Forgiveness
Earlier in October, the FBI issued a warning that scammers are going to target people looking to sign up for the Federal Student Aid program.
Scammers intend to steal personal information, payment information, and money.
In fact, the application comes with its own warning at the bottom of the page stating "you NEVER have to pay for help with your federal student aid." ---
What is the Debt Relief Program?
The debt relief program, Federal Student Aid, was introduced in August 2022 and started accepting applications in mid-October.
The goal is to remove between $10,000 and $20,000 of student debt from the borrowers of student loans.
The application deadline is December 31, 2023, and those who qualify must earn less than $125,000 per year, or $250,000 for joint filers.
How Scammers are Targeting Loan Forgiveness Applicants
The fact is, scammers are using this program as a chance to create fake websites that look just like the application form.
They will try sending phishing emails or SMS messages about "benefit eligibility."
They will try any method to defraud people.
According to the FBI, "cybercriminals and scammers will pretend to offer entrance into the Federal Student Loan Forgiveness program, contacting potential victims via phone, email, mail, text, websites, or other online chat services."
The FBI continues on to say that cybercriminals and fraudsters use their schemes to get payment for services they will not follow through on, or collect victim information to use afterwards to commit identity theft and other crimes.
To put it into perspective, there is an estimated 45 million student loan borrowers in the US. Collectively owing over $1.6 trillion.
That's why it's so important to stay aware. The question is not if they will target borrowers, it's how.
Question any request for payment to enroll in the program or to submit an application.
Applying for federal student loan relief is free of charge.
Similarly, the first step in the application process does not ask for any personal or financial documents.
Nor does it require users log into any account.
Legitimate Ways to Sign Up for Loan Forgiveness
Now, for the next step of the application process, these are the legitimate emails that will contact you:
The U.S. government will not send notices to program beneficiaries, thus any emails, phone calls, or SMS messages directing receivers to alleged application forms are scams.
You can only apply for debt relief through the studentaid.gov website.
So, again, if you are interested in applying for debt relief, go directly to studentaid.gov yourself.
All Borrowers Take Precaution
Borrowers are encouraged to be extra cautious when engaging in communications and follow Federal Student Aid on social media for program updates and, possibly, timely warnings of fraud. Above all, beware the loan forgiveness scammers.
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