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© Aaron Amat |

As federal student loan payments are set to resume, watch out for scammers

Repaying a hefty student loan can take years and a lot of hard work. With so many people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, last year the government put a pause on federal student loan repayments.

Now the Coronavirus emergency relief program is set to come to an end in just over a month and those payments will resume. Need to save money? Tap or click here for how to get a student discount at Apple (and you don’t need a student ID).

If that isn’t bad enough, scammers are also very aware that the repayment pause is ending. And they’ll be out in force trying to steal your money.

Here’s the backstory

In August, the U.S. Department of Education announced that the final extension to pause federal student loan payments would last until Jan. 31, 2022. After that date, repayments are expected to continue as before.

The relief measures put a suspension on loan payments, added a 0% interest rate and stopped collections on defaulted loans. Before it kicks off again, you should receive a notice at least 21 days before your payment is due, which will include the payment amount and due date.

But scammers are always on the lookout for new targets, and they have taken aim at those having to make repayments again. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning that students should be aware of scams pretending to help with payments.

What you can do about it

The fraudsters will use any tactic or technology that they can, and these will include text messages, emails, voice mails and calls. Be suspicious of any unsolicited calls that claim to assist you with quick loan forgiveness.

Here are a few more things that you can do to stay safe:

  • Never pay an upfront fee if somebody offers to help you. It’s even illegal for legitimate companies to try that.
  • Don’t fall for any texts or emails that convey a sense of urgency. These will usually use phrases like “act immediately”, “call within 7 days,” or “first come, first served”. There is also no one that can promise immediate and total loan forgiveness or cancellation.
  • Don’t give out your Federal Student Aid ID, Social Security number or other personal info. It can be used to break into your account and divert repayments.
  • Never download attachments or documents in an email if it isn’t sent by someone that you trust. Avoid clicking any included links.
  • There are several lenders, servicers, and private collection agencies that work on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education. Don’t use an agency that is not approved by the agency.
  • A list of approved Student Loan Servicers can be found here, and a list for private collection agencies can be found here.
  • If you have ever shared your student personal information, you must log into your StudentAid account and change your username and password.

🚨 What it means for you

While these federal student loan scam attempts are timely, it’s not uncommon for bad actors pretending to be government employees such as law enforcement officers, IRS agents or someone with Social Security.

✅ In one such scam earlier this year, callers claimed to be with the FBI and threatened victims with jail time if they didn’t pay. Tap or click here for ways these FBI impersonators tried to trick people.

✅ Other scammers use similar methods and prey on fears about current events like the pandemic. Many scams target older Americans specifically. Tap or click here eight of the biggest scams you should be watching for.

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