By Maria Carrasco, NASFAA Staff Reporter
The Department of Education (ED) Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a public service announcement on Thursday warning borrowers of scams related to President Joe Biden’s student loan relief and the pause on student loan repayments.
OIG recommends borrowers take three steps to protect their personal information, including to beware of phone calls, emails, texts, or social media messages from anyone claiming that they can help borrowers obtain student loan forgiveness or help move their application through the process. Borrowers should also beware of unsolicited offers to consolidate or refinance their loans for a fee.
Additionally, borrowers should be suspicious of any unsolicited email, text, or call that asks for their personal information, especially their Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. Borrowers shouldn’t share their FSA ID or other password with anyone, OIG recommends, even to people who say they work at their alma mater or their student loan servicing company.
“Dishonest companies, fraudsters, and cyber criminals are targeting student loan borrowers,” the announcement states. “They’re sending unsolicited texts, emails, or calls with promises to help you obtain student loan forgiveness, reduce your student loan debt, consolidate your student loans, or eliminate your student loans completely. You may also see their ads pop up on social media. Don’t fall for it — these are likely scammers coming after your money, your personal information, or both.”
Borrowed should also be suspicious of emails with links or attachments. OIG recommends borrowers hover over links to see where the links are being directed, and be on the lookout for misspellings in the email address, body of the message, or in links. A common scam tactic is to use addresses that are almost identical to legitimate ones — but are slightly misspelled.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) earlier in September also warned borrowers against scams related to student loan relief. Biden earlier in October also said borrowers who receive any questionable calls should report them to the FTC.
If borrowers think they might have been scammed or had their personal information stolen, OIG recommends they act quickly by contacting FSA and their loan servicer, as well as the OIG Hotline to share the suspicious message they received.
Publication Date: 10/31/2022
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