I have written many times over the last ten years about student loan scams because scammers have successfully targeted college students and their parents for a variety of scams related to these extensive loans. In October of 2017 the Federal Trade Commission, working with the Attorneys General of eleven states, launched what it cleverly calls, Operation Game of Loans to jointly target these various student loan scams. Some scammers promise dramatic reductions of debt of 50% or more in return for upfront fees of between $500 and $2,500. Often these scam companies have names that make it appear that they are endorsed by the federal government in order to trick people into trusting them. Another student loan scam involves promises related to consolidating student loans. Sometimes the scammers represent that they are associated with the U.S. Department of Education although the Department of Education does not associate with private lenders in regard to student loan consolidation. These scammers also charge significant fees for their student loan consolidation services when the truth is that there is no fee for legitimate student loan consolidation. It is also important to remember that consolidating your student loans does not lower your interest or monthly payment. Instead, after loan consolidation the student’s monthly payment is equal to a weighted average of the interest rates on the student’s current loans.
Recently the FTC settled its claims against Student Advocates Team LLC and other related defendants who had been accused of charging illegal upfront fees that they led consumers to believe were being applied to their student loans. Student Advocates Team also falsely promised they could permanently lower or even eliminate consumers’ loan payments or balances. Pursuant to the settlement, Student Advocates Team LLC will no longer be able to be in the debt relief business.
The old adage still is true. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably isn’t true. Many of these student loan debt relief scammers promise quick loan forgiveness, which is unrealistic. In addition, you should never pay any upfront fees for student loan debt relief assistance. Those fees are illegal and are a sure indication that you are being scammed. Also, remember my motto, “trust me, you can’t trust anyone.” Don’t trust scammers merely because they use names that sound like they are affiliated with the government either
For information you can trust about federal student loan repayment option, go to https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans . There you can learn about loan deferments, forbearance, repayment and loan forgiveness programs and there is never an application fee. If you owe private student loans, contact your loan servicer directly. You can also look into student loan refinancing rather than consolidating the loans. Refinancing student loans can result in a lower interest rate. For more information about student loans go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/1028-student-loans Here is a link to a calculator that can help you determine whether you will save more by consolidating or refinancing student loans.https://www.makelemonade.co/calculators/student-loan-consolidation-refinancing-calculator/
Here also is a link to an FTC video that explains student loan scams and what you can do to protect yourself. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7TjSI4Q6ztQ
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