self for free. You can apply for loan deferments, forbearance, repayment, and
forgiveness or discharge programs
directly through the U.S. Department of
Education or your loan servicer at no
cost. For federal student loan repayment
options, visit StudentAid.ed.gov/repay.
Debt relief isn’t a one-size-fits-all
proposition. Before you decide to engage
a student loan debt relief company, make
sure to research the company online on
your own. Type in the name of the company for general information, as well as
the name of the company with the words
“scam,” “complaints,” “reviews,” “lawsuit”
or similar terms.
If you’ve done your due diligence to
evaluate a company by searching online
for general information as well as reviews
and complaints and you’re still not sure
whether you should trust it, listen to your
intuition and don’t proceed. Additional
information for borrowers is available at
Getting schooled on
deceptive student loan
debt relief scams
ebt relief scams make false or
misleading promises. Fraudsters
prey on your hope for a solution
to financial stress. They use offi-
cial-looking names, fake logos and fake
seals to pretend to be affiliated with the
government and loan servicers. They can
even include your loan balance informa-
tion in communications to appear legiti-
mate. They say they have special access to
federal programs when they don’t, and
trick victims into believing that money
paid upfront goes toward paying down a
loan when it doesn’t.
Officials say you should avoid anyone
who asks you to pay an upfront fee. It’s
illegal for a for-profit company to charge
you an advance fee before it has provided
debt relief services. A company that
claims an offer is limited and that pressures you to act now, or asks you to sign
and submit a third-party authorization
form or a power of attorney, and promises quick and total loan forgiveness,
elimination or cancellation should tip you
off to a student loan debt relief scam.
Whether you have a federal or private
student loan, always protect your personally identifiable information. Federal
loans require the use of a Federal Student
Aid (FSA) ID, which consists of a user-name and password. An FSA ID gives
you access to Federal Student Aid’s online
systems and can serve as your legal signature. Don’t give your FSA ID to anyone.
Scammers ask for your FSA ID so they
can take control of your financial aid
information and make changes to your
account without your permission.
You don’t have to pay a third party for
help with your federal student loans.
Officials say there’s nothing a company
can do for you that you cannot do your-
Here are steps to take if
you've been scammed.
• Change your FSA ID at
• Contact your federal loan
servicer to revoke any power
of attorney or third-party
Make sure no unwanted
actions have been taken on
your loans. Information about
loan servicers is available at
• Use the Federal Student
Aid Feedback System,
to file a report of suspicious
• Contact your bank or
credit card company to stop
payments to the company.
• File a complaint with the
Federal Trade Commission
and your state attorney general’s o;ce.—AH
by AMANDA HOROWITZ
Student loan debt relief scams
have been the target of a
coordinated federal and state
law enforcement initiative called
Operation Game of Loans.
is a writer, businesswoman and owner
of Fight Back! She is
the daughter of Fight
Back!’s founder, David
Horowitz. Fight Back!
has received multiple
Emmy Awards and
over 400 awards
from government and
citizen groups and
has helped to draft
over 50 pieces of
legislation in America.
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