HARRISBURG, Pa. (WKBN/WHTM) – Ohio and Pennsylvania are in the top 10 states where people Google “student loan forgiveness” the most. They want relief or at least some help. But now, Pennsylvania is warning citizens to be careful what they may hear from people who promise to take away the problem.
“With the continuing pandemic, many consumers have been in search of financial relief,” said Secretary of Banking and Securities Richard Vague. “Like other scams, these perpetrators prey upon the hope and vulnerability of people, creating an ideal scenario to take advantage of them.”
Student loan debt is a giant concern for most graduates. Headlines that promise student loan forgiveness catch their attention, but they also catch the attention of criminals.
“Scam artists cling to that and then they start to perpetrate by contacting people out of the blue,” said Katrina Boyer, an investor education coordinator.
According to the Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities, the recent pandemic-related pause in student loan payments, plus public calls for broad-based student loan forgiveness have caused an uptick in scams.
“Many students and families across Pennsylvania borrow funds to help finance post-secondary education, resulting in debt that may take years to pay off,” said Secretary of Education Dr. Noe Ortega. “It’s important for borrowers who are seeking student loan debt relief to be aware of the associated scams and avoid them at all costs.”
Phone calls, texts, emails — all saying you’re eligible. They just need some personal information to get rolling.
“The problem is the people who are trying to collect that information are criminals, and the only thing they’re going to do with the information that you provide is steal your identity or steal your hard-earned money,” Boyer said.
The Pennsylvania Department of Banking and Securities has issued a warning about these calls. The department suggests you be skeptical and research what is being offered to you.
“If you did not initiate the call, never give up your personal information because you really have no idea who’s on the other end of that line,” Boyer said.
Applicants should also verify every email address, ensuring that emails being received for student loans are from a dot-gov (.gov) email address.
If you’ve already fallen for this type of program, act fast. Close accounts, stop payments, monitor your credit report and report the scam to local police. If you shared your bank account or credit card information with a scammer, contact your bank or credit card company immediately.
“If you don’t remember anything else I said, dial 1-800-PA BANKS,” Boyer said.
- Student loan forgiveness scams can also be reported to:
Remember though, help for student loan relief is free. There are companies that legitimately help with consolidating loans.