Student loan borrowers at risk of scams as payments restart, says FTC

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Student loan payments are restarting in October after a pause of more than three years — and scammers are trying to take advantage, the Federal Trade Commission warned.

Fraudsters may try mislead borrowers by offering assistance and asking them to pay for it, Ari Lazarus, consumer education specialist at the FTC, wrote in a consumer alert Thursday. Those fake offers might include lowering borrowers’ monthly payments, avoiding repayment or getting their loans forgiven.

“Worried about repaying your loans? The calls and texts that offer ‘help’ might be tempting,” the alert said. “But before you act, know how to spot the scams.”

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The suspension of federal student loan payments began in March 2020, one of many tranches of government aid meant to alleviate financial pressures on households at the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The pause has since been extended eight times, twice by the Trump administration and six times by the Biden administration. Interest on federal student debt was also suspended during this period but started accruing again on Sept. 1.

The “best source” of information on federal student loans is the Federal Student Aid website, studentaid.gov, the FTC said.

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The agency offered two tips to avoid falling victim to a scam:

  • Don’t give away your FSA ID login information. Only scammers will ask for this. They can cut off contact between borrowers and their loan servicer, and perhaps even steal their identity.
  • Don’t trust people who promise debt relief or loan forgiveness, even if they claim to be from the U.S. Department of Education. Special access to repayment plans or forgiveness options doesn’t exist. Instead, log into your student loan account to review your options.

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