Earlier this week, the Biden administration’s Department of Education officially launched its student debt forgiveness platform, allowing millions of borrowers to apply for student loan cancelation following a weekend of beta testing to ensure a smooth process. So far, everything seems to be working smoothly, and it’s estimated that more than eight million borrowers filled out applications in the first few days of the applications soft-launch. However, the FBI is warning those who have yet to apply to be wary of scams. Here’s what you need to know.
According to Gizmodo, there’s a growing concern about scammers looking to take advantage of people trying to apply for the student debt forgiveness program. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and President Biden have spoken out, warning borrowers to be vigilant about what information they share and with who.
Student loan forgiveness scams are targeting people in sneaky ways:
The FBI notes that cybercriminals may attempt to contact people applying for the loan to convince them to provide personal or financial information that could be used for scams or identity theft later.
The agency also noted that some scammers are asking people for “processing fees,” which the FBI notes is not a practice of the agency, federal government, or its loan partners.
According to CNET, people need to be aware that scams don’t only come as emails. Borrowers must be suspicious of shady social media posts, QR codes, text messages, and phone calls.
Beware of any application or person, text, or email asking you to:
- attach or upload any documents
- give out bank account or credit card information, or your FSA ID
- pay for processing fees or any other part of the loan application
- offering you faster application approval if you pay a fee
- asking you to pay with cryptocurrency — not only is applying free, but scammers could be trying to access your crypto wallet
How do you avoid being caught in a student loan forgiveness scam?
The best way to avoid scams is to know what scams look like.
“Unsolicited emails and other messages should be ignored, and attachments inside of them should never [be] opened,” CNET explains.
Another important way to avoid getting caught in a scam is to pay attention to the sender's addresses for any emails regarding loan forgiveness.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) says you can expect email updates from the Department of Education regarding loan forgiveness only. At that time, you might be asked to upload documents for verification.
But those emails will come from only one of three addresses only:
“Pay close attention the sender address for emails about loan forgiveness — looking for slight typos — to avoid a scammer’s fake emails,” the commission suggests.