BBB: Scammers target student loan borrowers waiting for forgiveness applications

BBB: Scammers are targeting student loan borrowers waiting for forgiveness applications.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 4:25 PM CDT
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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - “I’m following up in regards to your outstanding student loan balance.”

That’s what an unknown caller said to Kristi Cadenbach, of Lincoln, in a voicemail earlier this fall.

“He made it sound convincing that I need to call him back due to recent events with the student loans being forgiven by the President,” Cadenbach said.

That’s why she emailed 10/11, because while she recognized it as likely a scam, she worried others would not.

Josh Planos, spokesperson for the Better Business Bureau said student loan forgiveness scams are prevalent right now as people eagerly await more information about student loan forgiveness.

“Anytime there’s confusion that’s the perfect breeding ground for any number of scams,” Planos said.

More than 230,000 Nebraskans are eligible for up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness, with about 136,000 eligible for double as they’re Pell Grant recipients.

This leaves hundreds of thousands vulnerable.

Planos outlined some red flags:

First, if the caller or emailer reaches out to you first.

“When you get out of the blue phone calls, emails, text messages, claiming to be from the government, hang up the phone, don’t respond to that message,” Planos said. “The government’s never going to contact you using that method unless you grant permission.”

Second, they’ll put the victim in a high-pressure situation like what the caller said in the phone call Cadenbach received.

“It is urgent that I speak with you as soon as possible before these programs change,” the caller said.

Third, never pay processing fees or application fees to apply for a government program.

Finally, seek information from verified sources, like websites that end in .gov or links found on the Better Business Bureau website.

Cadenbach said she hopes this information will prevent scammers from getting away with this kind of behavior.

“When people are in debt they’re just being taken advantage of more and it can just keep spiraling into more debt,” Planos said. “It’s just sad and frustrating.”