If someone tells you that you need to pay to sign up for government student loan debt relief program, run away as fast as you can. Scammers want to hook you and fill their pockets with your money, while their “advice” may make your student loan problems worse.
The Federal Trade Commission offers the following tips for how to spot scam companies that charge illegal upfront fees for so-called help with your student loans:
The first thing is to be informed. Be aware you don’t have to pay for help managing your student loans. If someone tries to charge you up front, before they’ve done anything, that’s your first clue that it’s a scam. In addition, only a scammer will offer you quick loan forgiveness.
An example is Apex, a company that enrolled people in its sham student loan forgiveness program. During the federal student loan pause, when most borrowers weren’t in contact with their loan servicers, Apex signed people up for what they called debt relief programs, according to an FTC lawsuit.
Apex employees pretended they worked with the Department of Education and told borrowers they were their new loan servicers. They then signed borrowers up to make automatic payments to a debt relief program that didn’t exist.
Payments went into Apex’s pockets, rarely making it to actual loan servicers. And, this was at a time when the covid-19 federal student loan pause meant that federal borrowers didn’t have to make any loan payments starting March 2020.
Now that the return to repayment is coming up on Sept. 1, go to StudentAid.gov/repay to look at the status of your federal student loans. You’ll find information on income-driven repayment plans that adjust your monthly payment based on your income.
If your loans are private, go directly to your loan servicer.
If you encounter a scam, report it to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.